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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006


O, frabjous day! I finally finished the beading! The Ever-Gorgeous Earl is at a tennis tournament in Odessa, 20 miles to the west. ["Wait a minute!" you're saying. "You said earlier there's a basketball play-off game tonight in Pecos! You're getting your stories mixed up. You LIE!" Au contraire, my little dumplings: such is the life of a sub-varsity coach. Tennis in the daytime, basketball at night. He left here at 5:50 this morning to catch the bus to Odessa with his 9th-grade tennis team. Here in about an hour I'll drive over and get him and bring him back to Midland High, where he'll get his suit out of his truck and we'll get on the basketball bus at 3 pm to ride to Pecos, 90 miles to the west. We'll get home about midnight. It'll be a loooong day for him.]

ANYWAY--so the EGE is talking to me on the phone, and I have on my headset and so can bead, and while he's talking about tennis, which I have never played and so do not understand at ALL, I'm beading happily away and FINISH the fleur de lis. Yea!

He also tells me about an Odessa pricipal who, sometime yesterday or Friday, took a gun to school and had it in his OFFICE, where--get this!--it discharged and shot a hole in the wall. Yiiiii! And when they ran in to see what it was, the principal said it was a firecracker.

Yes, he did.
No, I couldn't believe it, either.

He maintained this story, refusing to let the cops search his car until they got a search warrant and found not one, but TWO guns in his vehicle. On school property. Holy crap. How stupid do you have to be? I don't know about everywhere else, but in Texas, this is a Very Big No-No, having guns on school property. Like even outside, in the street, anywhere near a school. And this guy has a loaded gun in his office.

Sheesh. I pity the fool.

OK--here's the finished piece. Wish you could see the sparkliness of it--all those tiny purple beads are gorgeous, and it's sparkly and quite solid and heavy. This is the skirt the woman asked about and then dissed when I quoted a price. I'm ever so glad now that I didn't sell it to her. It's MINE!

Well, after it comes back from the magazine, to which I must mail it by Friday. . . .

Mardi Gras

It's Fat Tuesday, y'all, and here at Voodoo Cafe, we're celebrating with such nostalgia, a tinge of sadness, and great hope for the future of our favorite city in the world. The webcams for the parades indicate that it's sure not a ghost town, and that's good--maybe by next August, when we usually visit NOLA, it will be well on its way back to "normal," and our (admittedly meager) tourist dollars will help a little. We'd planned a Mardi Gras party with friends, but we couldn't do it this past weekend because some of them went to Las Vegas, the weasles. And we couldn't do it tonight because, once again, we're headed to Pecos, Texas, for another basketball play-off game. I'm not complaining--I love basketball and hope we can beat this team, which is currently undefeated. So we're planning for this coming weekend. Although it's Lent, I think we can manage it--one of the Vegas-going friends studied for the priesthood and can, I believe, give us a semi-official dispensation for post-beginning-of-Lentan partying.

But to celebrate today, I've been listening to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, from the Rounder Heritage Series of cd's, and wearing my beads, dusty from hanging over the doorway to the New Orleans Hall, the hall in our house that's painted purple, with a metal sun wearing a gorgeous mask made and sent to me by an artist. It's quite lovely here, and so I went outside and sat on the sidewalk to eat my bowl of (dry, no milk) Cheerios with Garfunkle, who does not like Cheerios and keeps thinking that, as he circles around me, the next circuit will have changed the Cheerios into, say, tuna. Or dead dove, which is what someone had yesterday, judging from the feathers in the yard. I do not want them to catch doves or mockingbirds. I wish they'd catch grackles, which rob the nests of both of the former and kill other birds and mice--but they don't hunt grackles.

Anyway, so my main celebration of the day is to try to finish beading the fleur de lis, which I did NOT finish on the bus Friday, as I made A Big Mistake. I try to give myself a treat on Fridays, and since I didn't have time to go to Goodwill and hunt for white shirts to dye, I went, instead, to The Evil Corporate Starbuck's and bought myself a grande toffee nut latte to drink on the bus. Now, for the longest time I always double-checked that they made mine de-caf, but they always did and so I sort of got out of the habit. Plus I was visiting with the crew there--talking about artwear and what I've been up to, etc. And so I didn't even think to check until I was on the bus and began to feel just the teeniest bit odd. Like aliens had taken over my body. Now, caffeine doesn't just make me hyper. It screws with my head and my stomache AND makes me hyper. So I'm light-headed and dizzy and nauseated, with heartburn and acid boiling in my stomach AND enough jittery nervous energy to power the bus all by myself. In short, I did not feel at ALL like beading. I felt like lying down under the bus and just getting it over with. I felt like that until--I swear this is true--2 am, when I finally went to sleep. Twelve hours of misery from caffeine. And I used to guzzle the stuff all day long, and with CHOCOLATE! Which REALLY gives you a buzz.


Anyway, so I didn't finish the beading, and I'm working on it today, wearing my beads and listening to Bo Dollis and The Wild Magnolias. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Friday, February 24, 2006


This is what I'm doing this morning while I do another draft of the article. This is a fleur de lis on the front of a skirt I mentioned a while back--someone asked about buying it, but when I gave them the price, they never responded. Remember that? So I asked one of my editors if they'd be interested, and now I'm trying to finish the beading so I can write about it and send it in to the magazine. Plus I'll use the beading as an example in the lesson on embellishment for my workshop at

The beading is going to take FOREVER to finish, as it's that crusty kind where some of the beads overlap, making it all rich and dense and lovely but SUCH a pain to do. I'm going to take it with me on the bus this afternoon. We're going to a play-off game (basketball, of course) in Pecos, about 70 miles away. Since I'm riding the team bus, I won't have to drive and can bead all the way there and--if those little lights provide enough illumination--all the way back, too. And since the bus leaves at 3 and we don't play until 7 or 7:30, I should be able to work some while they're warming up. Traveling is GREAT for hand work.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Work Can Be Fun

I've been good this morning, working for over 3 hours before stopping for breakfast; so I'm letting myself do this while I eat. Eating: I think I explained a while back that I'm a creature of habit and routine and that, if I don't force myself to do something different, I'd do the same things day after day. My breakfast is the perfect example: sometimes I force myself to eat dry Cheerios (my second-favorite healthy breakfast), but most of the time--say, 6 days out of the week--this is what I eat: a bowl with raw walnuts on the bottom, then a layer of raisins, then Shredded Wheat with Fiber, then raw oatmeal. Add water and microwave for 25-30 seconds. Drain the water and add unsweetened soy milk. Now, if you're a normal person who likes to indulge yourself after the struggle of waking up and actually hauling your carcass out of bed, this sounds hideous. If, on the other hand, you're someone like me who prizes above almost all else the feeling of health and energy, this is the perfect breakfast--esp. if you top it off with three slices of extra-fiber toast with olive oil spread. And don't forget the vitamins! If I eat this, I can go until dinner (sometimes at 8 or 9 at night, esp. during basketball season) without suffering unduly. Oh, sure--I'll get hungry, that pain in the pit of the stomach--but I don't get dizzy and ill-feeling like you do hours after eating, say, a doughnut with coffee.

Anyway--that wasn't what I was going to write about. I meant to tell about how much I love working the way I'm doing today. I recorded an interview yesterday and downloaded it to the computer, where I can add index marks while I listen to it. I set up the document and the recorder software so they're tiled vertically next to each other and I can move back and forth between them. And then I get some handwork--this morning I finished (hooray!) beading a bag I've been working on FOREVER. So I bead as I listen to the interview and then stop and write and then go back to listening and beading. Since the recording was almost an hour and a half, I got a lot of beading done. And the first draft of the article is over 1500 words, which is the length it's supposed to be. So now it's just re-writing (always much easier for me) and editing (sometimes easy, sometimes not)--doing all that a couple of times.

Here's my desk this morning. The bag, obviously, is on the left. The notes from the interview are on the right. There's my cool little digital recorder (I just got this--probably the last person in the world to know about digital vs. tape and how much easier the former could make my life) is up there by the orange thread. Next to it are the two digital camers--the big old one and the nifty new one.

The only ones who are NOT happy with the way I work are the cats. They hear my voice on the recording. You know how cats, when you're on the phone, always think you must be talking to them, since there's nobody else there, and so you must want them to sit in your lap? So they hear my voice and try to get in my lap. I pet them, tell them no, I can't work that way. I always feel like a jerk, like someone who'd deliberately hurt their feelings and make them feel unloved. Sometimes I hold one for a little while, but it's impossible to work with an 18 lb cat in your lap. Cutie Pie got tired of asking if he could get in my lap and just jumped, sending beads flying everywhere. I yelled at him, and he gave me a look of such disgust that I had to laugh.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Here's My Life

I've been told not to tell anybody about My Real Life, since people like to imagine this glamorous existence wherein I jet around the globe to interview artists over seven-course meals prepared by personal chefs.

OK. So pretend that's true. But let me tell you about this morning, not that I'll tell you this is typical and how a free-lance writer is much more likely to spend her time. Nope. Won't tell you that.

But this morning I'm on the phone, the cordless phone, going to pull something out the file cabinet while talking to someone who needs information so they can send me a check. And just as she gets on the phone and we're greeting each other, I feel something wet on my sock. So there I am, schmoozing with someone halfway across the country who wants to pay me, hopping through the hall on one foot, trying to keep from squealing about the cat barf on my sock.

But pretend I didn't tell you that. Pretend I told you, instead, about the caviar in first class, where nobody wears ratty athletic socks and nobody EVER steps in cat barf.

My Philosophy of Life

Now where else in the WORLD could you have a title like that and not have your friends and neighbors snort and give you noogies? I mean, how pompous is THAT? But maybe it's what blogs are for, and so here goes, my philosophy of life:

We're all going to die, and we'd better be as nice to each other and have as much fun as possible in the time we have left.

Pretty damn simplisitic, huh? And the kind of thing you read and then go, "Yeah, yeah, so where's the philosophy to that?" But how many of us reallyreallyreally realize, to the bone, that we're going to die? We SAY we do, but it's like whoever-it-was who said, "Yes, but I always thought an exception would be made in my case." We don't SAY that, but we think it. It's that ego, trying to preserve our illusions about our specialness. And like the Buddhists would say, "Yes, you ARE special! We all are!" Well, they might not use exclamation points, being all calm and everything. . . .

So in 1994 one my The Ever-Gorgeous Earl's brothers was murdered here, and in an effort to help members of our huge extended family try to deal wtih that, The E-GE and I began to go to meeting of Survivors of Homicide, which I heartily support and recommend. There we met people who had lost everything--mothers who had lost their only child, for example. And in the five years we went to meetings and made speeches and attended murder trials to support the families, my view of life changed completely.

So I could go on and on about it, but I won't. I mean, it's pretty obvious, really. But it's something that's in the back of my mind, reminding me that the things we get so twisted about really aren't that big a deal, in the long run. It's less important to be right, to be rich, to be gorgeous, than it is to kiss our sweeties every day, to look out the window and be glad there's a view, no matter what that view is. To spend some time doing something nice for someone, either animal or human.

OK, I'm starting to sound like a preacher or someone who'd show up on your doorstep in a bad suit with a stack of pamphlets. Mea culpa. It's Friday--go have some fun.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Greens of all Kinds

OK, so maybe it's not acid green. There's a website I need to go to--it has tons of colors with their names. Click here. On this site, the color I'm trying for looks like yellow-green, but it could also be chartreuse or green-yellow. Huh. Anyway, here's what I got yesterday.

On the right is the original piece of fabric, the one I dyed the day before. Kind of pale and lime-y. On the chart, it's pale green or light green. Then, in the middle is the same fabric overdyed yesterday with the golden yellow mix. It's the yellow green (in case you haven't played with that site--you point your arrow at the color on the chart, and the whole background will turn that color for comparison. I LOVE that!)

On the far right is a pair of underwear--it began as blue and then was dyed the pale green and then dyed again yesterday and is now a cross between the yellow green and the olive drab.

Wait! There's more! Here are the two other pieces I dyed Monday. On the left is a sweater that was, according to the chart, either Linen or Old Lace (sheesh--like I'd EVER think to call anything either of those colors on my own-I'd use "beige" and let it go at that--I've got to work on this whole color thang, obviously). The shirt on the right was a brand-new pure white 100% cotton shirt on clearance (it was dirty) from The Dreaded Wal-Mart. Same dye bath, same amount of time. Now the sweater is, um, let's see: Chartruese, and the shirt is tending more toward Spring Green. So what's up with that? Is it a blue-ish tint I see in the shirt? It's the one I was talking about yesterday--there's something just not quite the way I want it, even though it's nice and blindingly bright.

And here's another top, an old one:

Right now it's Olive to Dark Olive Green. I want to make it brighter and am wondering what dye bath to use: yellow? golden yellow? bright green mixed into either of those? Hmmm. Since I ordered over $100 worth of dye yesterday, I can do LOTS of experimenting! I hate spending money, so that was a BIG deal. But the guy who took the order at Dharma--Ernest--was really helpful and knew tons of stuff, so I ended up buying more than I'd planned. Like a color wheel, as it turns out the Procion dyes are not mixed according to blue/red/yellow, but with cyan/magenta/yellow. And so, apparently, I need a whole new color wheel. We'll see--it wasn't expensive, so I got one. Now, this guy also said that the soda ash has to be the kind they sell, rather than the kind I've been buying at Lowe's, from the swimming pool supply section. I kind of doubt that--sounds like marketing to me--but I ordered some more from them and will compare and see. I'll be way pissed if it's not true--I HATE it when people try to get me to do stuff that's not really necessary just to make money/get something they want/be In Charge. But it could be true--we'll see.

And the last thing:

This is the red fabric I did yesterday. I wanted blood red for a project I'm thinking about trying. This? This is sort of a reddish Salmon or Coral. I can't check, because of course I have it BACK in the dyebath this morning, overdyeing it to try to get a good red.

So those are the adventures in dyeing. After the red fabric comes out and I get the machine rinsed out (the reds make a HUGE mess, for some reason--they actually splash out through the opening around the lid, so I have to do the whole thing with an old towel over the top of the machine), I'm going to try purple. I've done some with Deep Purple and didn't really like the color--I'm going to add a tiny bit of fuschia and try for Dark Magenta, which, to me, looks just like the Purple with a tiny bit of Magenta. . . .anyway, I'm doing some of The Ever-Gorgeous Earl's new socks--his school colors are purple and gold, and you know how coaches always have those white socks that look so tacky when they sit down and their pantslegs ride up and there, between the khaki pants and the black coaching shoes are those white socks. Ick. I think purple would be much better. I called him this morning while he was on the tennis court with his team and asked him if I could dye his socks. He was game, if just the teensiest bit cautious. Purple socks. It's an idea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

No More Rants

I'm not going to promise, because ranting is a part of my life--my husband would no doubt tell you it's a BIG part. I rant a LOT. Mostly because I like to hear myself yell--and cuss, as my vocabulary gets really colorful when I'm ranting. It's not because I'm an angry person, or bitter--I just like to rant. But I'll try to keep it out of here and limit it to my own living room. And I'll try to remember that other people's ideas about blogs and websites are completely different from my own. I go to those places looking for people, most often artists, and want information. Others want other stuff. OK. I keep forgetting there's a good reason I don't watch tv or read magazines or participate in popular culture: my taste is the teensiest bit different from that of most other people. Lesson learned once again.

What I learned TODAY: if you have lime green and want to make it an acid green, a sulphur green, you add (taa-daa!): golden yellow. I wondered about this all day yesterday. I'm pretty good with some colors and can mix them and get what I want, but there are other colors that just baffle me. Like this acid green. I'm talking dye here, and so yesterday I used Bright Green and Lemon Yellow to get what I hoped would be a bright, acid-y green. And the resulting shirt, sweater, underwear, and yardage was bright, all right. Yowza--it would scorch your eyeballs! Me? I love bright, so I was pretty happy, EXCEPT: it seemed to have a faint, faint blue tinge to it. Not so you'd ever think "blue," but so you'd think "soft," or "cool." It's impossible for me to explain, since nobody else noticed it. But I did. At yoga, I asked what color I'd add to this (my shirt) to get this (the acid-y green yoga mat). Answers ranged from brown to blue to black. None of those sounded right to me. So this morning I stood in the middle of the kitchen and twirled a yardstick and thought about it, and Golden Yellow is what I came up with. [Aside: what do you do when you're thinking about something really deeply, trying to solve a problem? Sometimes I hum really odd songs that I'd NEVER sing, like "The Wabash Canonball"--if I find myself humming that song, it means an idea is percolating just below the surface, so that I'm not aware of it until I hear myself humming. Other times I dance around the kitchen, just a repetitive motion that keeps my body busy while my brain's working. Most often I catch myself in a trance, staring at something and making other repetitive motions, like tapping my teeth with my fingernail or rubbing my hair. I love the way the brain works!]

So I mixed up some dye in the bucket--what was left in the jar of bright green and what was left in the jar of golden yellow. Why do I not measure these things? Ha. I try not to count things (stitches, for example) or measure or weigh or any of that stuff--it kind of sets off that part of my brain that really LIKES that stuff. In another life I could spend hours dragging the back of a knife over a teaspoon, leveling and re-leveling and re-re-leveling a spoonful of powdered dye. Nope. Not going there. So I'll just be guessing a lot, it sems. I talked to Kim at Jacquard yesterday, and she said you've got to write down the recipes, make up your own dye book. I shuddered. "Write down the recipes." What horror!

So. The green is kind of dark--too much dye. But it's definitely that acid color I wanted. Now I've got to decide if I want to re-dye (overdye) the sweater and the shirt. Sheesh--what a LOT of work. Right now the washer's full of Scarlet and Fire Engine Red--doing 3 yards of bleached muslin. And the bucket's full of acid green--the buckets aren't big enough for sweaters and big shirts. Guess how I know this! If you try to cram, say, a big skirt into a bucket, parts of it are NOT going to dye, no matter how careful you are.

I'll try to take photos later to show the colors.

Monday, February 13, 2006

What I Hate about Blogs

Yeah, right, like anybody cares what I think about these--but I HAVE to say this. It's like my rant about websites. Remember that one, where I'd been looking for artists for a project and kept coming across these impossible-to-find-things-on websites? Well, I go to a lot of blogs--not only for fun, but because they're done by artists, and I'm checking them out to see what the artist is up to. And I swear, most of them are like really irritating inside jokes. They're like little personal postings to their friends and family, and reading them as An Outsider (someone who doesn't know all the players), is like coming in in the middle of a movie with a lot of characters and a complicated plot. So maybe that's what blogs are all about--ways to entertain your friends--but I don't think so. Not if you're someone who wants her/his stuff out there, someone who's doing things you want to share with people who don't know all your most intimates-of-intimates. When I go to a blog and find all these names of friends sprinkled throughout, I don't even bother trying to figure out what's going on. Who has that kind of time?

I don't care a bit about movie stars and celebrities (one blog I just checked out, thinking that because I knew the artist and love her/his stuff, it would be sooooo cool, was filled with photos of celebrities and bits about their LIVES, for pete's sake. I mean, really--I thought only adolescents were interested in that).

I think I must be missing the whole point, and it wouldn't be the first time. Maybe blogs ARE just secret journals you happen to be sharing with all 4.3 million of your very closest friends. I just wish there were some way to identify them for people like me, something like a coding system. "Private" so I'd know it was just for friends, "technical" so I'd know it was full of detailed information about whatever, "a humorous look at art and life," so I'd say, "Hey! That one's for me!"

OK, OK, I'm beginning to sound crochety, so I'll go check on the dye. Today: acid/lime green.

Marginally Better, But Not by Much

I tried all morning Friday to do this but kept getting an error message--something wrong with blogger that wouldn't let it upload and wouldn't let me save it as a draft, either. Sigh.

Anyway, here's the dress after the over-dyeing. It's a little better but needs one more run through a really orange dyebath. I set the pocket on it so you could see the change so far. I really like the fraying on the bottom and so, rather than hemming it, I think I'll cut it exactly the length I want it and then cut off the sleeves most of the way and then, maybe, cut the neckline, too. That's the beauty of something that's less than perfect: you need have no qualms about altering it to a fare-thee-well. (I wanted to say that in the artwear book, but no one had heard of that usage--"fare-thee-well"--and so nixed it. Sheesh. Blogs are great because you can say whatever you want!)

I had something else in that post that got eaten by the ether, but I have absolutely no clue what it was. Maybe I'll remember later on. Maybe not. Menopause is, in many ways, like a black hole. Things go in, and you never see them again.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Quite frankly, it's hideous. It's even worse--if that's possible--than it was before. What IS this color? I don't even want to think about it. The fabric on top is a piece of bleached muslin I dyed with it--they got tangled together and both of them streaked--no big deal; not nearly as much a big deal as ugly colors. So I put it all back in the washing machine again, this time with Brilliant Orange. And then--you aren't going to believe this--I sat right here in the room with the washing machine, with the stop watch beside me so I'd know when to put in the soda ash, and I let the washing machine run through the whole cycle and drain all the &^%$# dye right out. I can't believe it. The dye is supposed to stay in there for at least an hour and a half, all told. And I KNOW that, and I'm ALWAYS careful. But I was doing the one thing that always makes me lose track of time: altering photos in Photoshop. Unbelievable. And I did NOT have any more Brilliant Orange dye, of course. I'd used it all up.

But what do I always say? Nothing's ruined, there're no irreparable mistakes. So I mixed up some Lemon Yellow, some Golden Yellow, and some Scarlet; and I started the whole damn process all over again. I have no clue what will happen, but I'm going to find out. I'll let you know. For now, I'm going to put in the soda ash and go do some yoga. Lord knows I need it. . . .that and half an hour of meditation, and maybe I won't feel like such a total goober.

Let's See What Happens

Remember that totally hideous khaki-colored sack of a dress from yesterday? I decided that, since I wasn't ever going to wear it, I might as well see what I can do with it. Here's what I've done so far:

I cut off the bottom--if everything works out, I'm going to hem it about knee-length. Then I ripped off the chest pockets--are those the most hideous things ever? Like someone made pockets just to say, "hey, look at my breasts! look at my breasts!" It already has side-seam pockets, which I adore--nice and deep and useful. Like I could carry my cell phone in a chest pocket. Yeah.

So now I'm going to dye it. Not many colors to choose from, since it's already that nasty dun color. I've got some rust orange Procion and am going to see how that works--see if it will uniformly color the area under the pockets. See, I re-dyed this skirt yesterday, one where some parts didn't dye the first time around. I figured those spots would be lighter this time, but no--the whole skirt is the same uniform color. I've got a lot to learn about this whole dyeing thing.

Well, let's get busy--it'll take all day to dye it, rinse it, etc. But then we'll see what happens and what's next! Gotta remember to toss in some white fabric--no sense dyeing this thing without getting some yardage out of it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This morning while I'm working I've been listening to tango music on a CD from my friend Brad. I've long wanted to learn to tango--now more than ever; and I'm determined to find a place to take lessons. There are a bunch of us who want to learn, but I'm wondering how easy it's going to be to find a class. If I wanted to learn the two-step, the schottische, or the Cotton-Eyed Joe, I could find a dozen classes, just like that. But I already know all those--The Ever-Gorgeous Earl made sure I knew them all before he'd even take me on a DATE, lo! those many years ago (30, to be exact).

But tango? In West Texas? And for a group of people who are not your typical West Texas Dancers? Out of us all, I'm the only female. We're racially mixed. We don't look like the people signing up for polka lessons. So where are we going to take lessons if we're not hanging out at the White Heterosexual Over-Fifty Cowboy Dance Club? Beats me, but I'm going to figure out something, because I am GOING to learn to tango. & what a great excuse to make a cool, swirly dress!

If anyone knows of a good tango video--not a how-to one, but just one that shows people doing the tango so that I can do slow-mo and watch how they're doing the moves, moving their feet, etc.--please let me know. Among us, we could probably figure out most of the moves if we had something to study besides Richard Gere's feet.

I'm Back!

My brain is back--hooray! Thought it would NEVER happen, for sure. This morning I've been dyeing things--a skirt that didn't take the first time around--I dyed it last night, and it was still too peachy (these skirts didn't come in white, so I had to buy the palest colors they had and go from there). So I'm overdyeing it--we'll see how that goes.

And I've been working on some things for whatever comes next--some new idea is percolating in there, and all I know is that I'm supposed to be printing out these images of my cats. I just this morning, with my new-found brain, learned how to get to the drive for the photo memory card for the new camera. I knew how to do it for the old one--I'd created a shortcut to the desktop for it. This one uses a different drive, and I couldn't remember how I found it--thought it was on the control panel, and it wasn't--and so I had to wait until my brain came back so I could find it and create a shortcut for it, too. That means I can by-pass the *&^%$# photo-editing software that came with the camera and use Photoshop Elements II, which I'm still learning but, so far, love. I haven't done any layering with it, but I'm having a blast altering photos. So here are the ones I did this morning. They're printed directly onto fabric with my Epson Stylus C88, which I adore. The ones on pink are on fabric I dyed last time I was dyeing--I'm going to go buy a bunch of that 200-count cotton and wash and dry it and have it ready to add to every dye bath so I'll have it in lots of colors.
It's pinker, not as fuschia (I've spelled that incorrectly, but I do EVERY single time I spell it, no matter HOW I do it. So sue me).

So I've been thinking about this whole brain thing, about creativity. I'm working on a big project that may or may not ever go public. I hope it does, of course, but for right now, I'm just going with it. And doing a lot of thinking about what creativity is. Where does it come from? What sparks it? What makes it lie dormant? For me, I know it's about how my brain reacts to things that happen. I've mentioned I have OCD. The biggest thing for me is that my brain HAS to stay busy. It goes all the time--if it has nothing to think about, nothing that's grabbing its attention and making it work, it worries. It worried about death and disease, poverty and fleas, bankruptcy and old age, fat and nuclear disaster. Tornados. Arthritis. Cheese. Termites. You get the idea: it worries indiscriminately, constantly, all the time. It drives me nuts, as you might guess. Way too late in life I learned that if I give it things to keep it busy, it will be happy. Recently, I gave it the task of figuring out ways to make my mother's life easier so she can stay in her home. Oh, it loved this! The moment I woke up in the morning, it was racing with new ideas: home health aides, grocery delivery, grab bars in the shower. On and on and on, all day long. I'd wake up with a hot flash in the middle of the night, and there it was: Hey, what about direct-debit payment for the utilities? What about a non-skid rug by the front door? And then it would nag me: Don't forget to call the water company! Don't forget to arrange to have the newspaper porched (and who even knew "to porch" was a transitive verb?)

So you can see that I have to watch it. It's fine for my brain to obsess like this when there's a problem I need it to solve. But when the crisis is over, I need to give it something else, and RIGHT AWAY--or it's going to keep going 100 miles an hour about something else--EVERYTHING else.

So now it's back. My mother seems to be doing better, at least for right now, and my brain kind of ran out of things to remind me about because I got everything done. And I'm wondering if, for me at least, creativity is about giving the brain toys to play with. It started out that way long ago, when I realized that giving it toys beat the hell out of letting in ramble on its own, finding new horrors over which to obsess. It was only later that it began to make things out of the toys I gave it. So I learned to give it something to play with and then watch what it comes up with. You look at pictures or take a walk or go to a concert and just soak things in, saying to your brain, "here, look at this! what do you think of that?" and then getting out of the way and letting it play. That's the way it is for me. So I'm giving it these pictures of cats and waiting to see what it's going to do with them. If I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about pink and orange fabric with faces on it, I'm so much happier than if I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about cockroaches.

The Skirt Has a Home

Thanks to those who offered to give the skirt a good home--it's found one now and will be on its way soon. I'd put a picture of it here, but 1) it's in my truck and 2) it's really not much to look at yet--not exactly the kind of thing I want everyone to see and go, "ooooooh, so THAT'S what's she's been doing. poor thing." Or, as we say here, "Bless her heart."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Too Damn Many Clothes

I've had it with these closets. And doors. And bins. And everywhere else I have all these &^%$#@ clothes hanging and stacking and piling up. I can't find anything, and I can't get to the stuff I CAN find--I can see it back there in the back of the closet, but it's so wedged in there it's not even worth the effort. This is just the front rod of one of my two closets. They're tiny, as this is an old house, when the rooms were big and the closets microscopic. On the right are some of the skirts I mentioned--I now have 20--and a couple of them are ones I've dyed.

And here's the stuff hanging on the door of my husband's closet--

And here's even MORE stuff--you can see a lot of journal skirts on the right side of the photo on the left:

That stuff on the right is all stuff to be altered--dresses and skirts and stuff that I want to do something to, someday. I hate the color of that dress in front and want to dye it, but I'm afraid that color will make any other color muddy, and I hate muddy colors.

In all of this I found a journal skirt I started and didn't finish. It's floor length, with red velvet panels and patches to cover the worn spots. It's pretty funky, but if there's someone out there who can wear a size 33 Levi's and is tall (it's really long) and wants to send me $10 to cover postage (it's pretty heavy), I'll mail it to you. There's some other artwear I'm going to donate to the UU church auction, just to get it out of the house and try to find it a home. I mean, when I've spent hours beading something or altering it, I can't very well toss it in the bin at Goodwill, where I'll take most of the rest of this stuff. Sheesh. Some of it I've offered for sale at various times, with sad results. If only I knew someone exactly my size with my weird and funky taste, it'd be perfect!

A lot of it is stuff I bought just to alter--denim shirts, tons of jeans, long loose dresses I'd never wear (talk about feeling frumpy and hobbled by your clothes--I can't believe I ever wore those things--but that's the style I wore to school for all the years I substituted, lest I look too weird and frighten the children.) Something's gotta give, I know that--I feel buried under clothes, clothes, and more clothes.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Finally: Some Art!

Bet you thought I'd never post any photos, huh? Well, there's nothing FINISHED here, but there are some things under way--three projects I really want to finish. Here's the first, a bag I worked on some in the hospital. I sat and beaded until my butt was numb and then had to get up and pace out in the hallway.

And here's another of the Journal Pages. This is about wine, which I adore. I had a couple of labels I liked, and I took a photo of a wine glass and altered it in photo shop to get a simple outline I could paint. I'm pretty pleased with the result. Now to bead the grapes--aieeeeee!

And then this is another of the Nun's Aprons, this one with a picture of Moe in his incarnation as Fat Moe:

The apron is made of fabric I dyed--it started out as plain white cotton. THAT was a bunch of fun, as you can imagine: making fabric be the color I want, rather than having to make do with what's at the fabric store.

There's a lot to be done on them--a lot of handwork, which ALWAYS takes a lot of time. Don't know which I'll finish first, although I think I'd better finish the bag so I can use it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

There's Help Out There

There really is help out there. You don't hear about it, and it's sometimes hard to find, but it's out there. In the last month, I've talked to more wonderfully helpful people than I would have imagined--there's Rayetta Williams at the Area Agency on Aging, and Jewel Cook at the Southeast Senior Center. There's Harsha Patel, who handles my mother's oxygen, and Kerry Taylor, the hospital social worker. There are a bunch of others, as well--nurses and receiptionists and aides. If you're looking for help with an aging parent, call your local Area Agency on Aging, and they should get you started with other contacts, helpful books, brochures, checklists, and more.

I won't discuss much about my mother, as she's intensely private and would HATE that, but I'll explain that she's back at home, on oxygen all the time, with home health care from the hospital that, right now, consists of a nurse, a bath aide, and a physical therapist who come, individually, 2 or 3 times a week. The social worker will come once every week or two. After this ends (they'll evaluate her in 8 weeks and see if she still needs all this), I don't know what we'll do. She can live on her own, as she's been doing for 30 years; and that's what she wants to do. There is no way on the planet that she and I can live in the same house. What I've got to do is to make sure she has help--someone to take out the garbage and help with whatever she isn't strong enough to do. We're trying to get her to move here to Midland, as there's no way we can keep going up there every week--there've been 5 trips back and forth in the last week and a half, and I can't do that. A Good Daughter might be able to, but I can't. I've never had trouble finding my limits, and they're in front of me now, staring at me, tapping their foot in irritation.

It's hard to confess in public like this that you're not the perfect daughter, that you get irritated and are short-tempered, that you're not cuddly and sweet. I've always imagined other adult daughters are much more loving and intimate and confiding and just generally much nicer than I am. What I'm good at is identifying problems and solving them. And my mother, who's completely competent, pretty much wishes I'd quit that right now and go find something else to do with my time and leave her alone to handle things her own way.

Which is why I'm here, back at the keyboard. No wildly creative ideas yet, but I am getting caught up on work, and that feels pretty good. If you can bear with me, I should have something more colorful to offer here sometime soon.