Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Painting the Closet

Here's something to cheer you up. No matter what's going on in your life, you can look at this photo and smack yourself in the forehead and say, "Oh, geez, at least I'm not painting closets!"

Painting actual rooms is like bathing a dog. Not a lot of fun all the time, but parts of it can be entertaining, and if all goes well, it can be kind of Zen-like.

Painting closets, on the other hand, is like bathing a cat. It's messy, it's frustrating, and no one has any fun at all.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Missing New Orleans Journal Skirt

Sometime last year I wrote up my latest finished Journal Skirt and sent it off to Legacy. Yesterday I got the issue it's in--and, as usual, they did a stunning job of photography. It looks great--this is the first page, and on the next one they show the back of the skirt, and then there are two pages of details. I can't wait to get it back so I can wear it--if it ever again gets WARM enough to wear a skirt here. . . .

On the home front, today's the day to paint the inside of one of the closets with the semi-gloss white left over from the bathroom. The closet hasn't been painted in at LEAST 20 years--I'm guessing it's been longer than that. It's a hideous tan-ish color, with scuffs and dings and marks in it; and the bright white will do wonders. I dread it, though--in that small a space, I'm sure to get paint from one end of me to the other. Plus it has the recirculation duct for the heater/ac system right in the middle, going from the wall to the ceiling. I wrapped that in plastic wrap--I think I should wrap ME in plastic wrap, too. Or maybe I'll just turn up the heat and paint nekkid. . . .

While I was sitting here dreading the painting, I realized I could cover that shiny foil ductwork with fabric, when the painting's finished. I have some of the red-and-pink rose fabric from the bedspread--one my mother made for me when I was 8--and I think there may be enough to make a cover for it. That would be cool! Or I could just drape and tack the fabric--that way, if I ever wanted to use it for something else, I wouldn't have cut it all up--it would still be usable. Woo-woo!

In between coats of paint, I'll be vacuuming up and bagging still more beads--hope to actually finish (oooooh, love that split infinitive!) that today.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bead Work (with Big Help)

Here you see one of the many things I'm doing this morning. I'm moving all my beads from the little divided plastic boxes into individual plastic bags, which will go in flat drawers in a cabinet I had made for my rubber stamps. Years and years ago, I bought a wooden cabinet with 5 drawers, specially made for rubber stamps. I loved it, and so I had a local cabinet maker copy it for me--so I had 8 altogether. It was cheaper for me to have them made than for me to order them. But the cabinet maker realized it was cheap, too--and he said he didn't want to make any more and, if I really wanted him to, he was significantly increasing the price. That was fair--I wouldn't make them for what he made them for. And it was during the last oil business boom, back in the 80's, when everyone goes to the oil field and the ones left--the few carpenters and contractor-people left behind--can make HUGE bucks. Kind of like now. . . .

But I digress. So I'm not using many of my stamps any more--I don't want to use other people's images and make things that look like stuff I've already seen. So the stamps are mostly stored in the antique oak flat file in the storage building--those that I didn't give to my friends David and Keith. And I managed to empty out one of the little wooden cabinets by combining stamps into the other 7 (yes, chickadees, I had a gigantic collection of rubber stamps--and it's still pretty darn big). So, at one time, I had all the beads in the little plastic boxes. Those are a pain in the butt--if, for example, you have one open and oh, say, a Cat happens to leap onto the lid, it acts as a catapult (har, har) and lanches the entire collection--all the beads in all the little divided bins--into the air. Which scares the cat, who dashes away, slipping and skittering in the falling and rolling and tumbling beads.

Can you say, "Huge honkin' mess"? I'll bet you can.

So I'm re-organizing the beads. Oh, how I love re-organizing things! It does my little anal-retentive heart good!

I have one of those cute little metal bead scoops with which you scoop up little teeninsy bits of beads. So cute. And let me tell you from experience that it will take you about an eon to scoop every last bead out of every one of those &^%$ little divided areas that are not really made big enough for scooping. I was ready to toss the whole box across the room. Fun for the cats! Then I'd have to vacuum them all up (the beads, not the cats). Wait! Did you mention "vacuum"?

Yes, indeed! What a brilliant idea! So I got cheesecloth and put it between the hose and the nozzle. Stick the nozzle into one of the compartments and turn it on. Suck up all the beads. Hold the nozzle upright and turn off the vacuum (upright so the beads don't fall out when you turn off the vacuum--they stay in the nozzle). Fit a little plastic bag over the nozzle. Invert it. Beads roll into the plastic bag. Voilá!

In the photo you can see the cheesecloth and the vacuum, the plastic bags and bead box. And Cutie Pie, who sort of likes to be vacuumed. Lennie Lew is terrified of the vacuum, so Cutie Pie has to make a big show of being brave about it. He kept trying to bite and lick the nozzle, so I had to take a break to vacuum him. Unfortunately, there was a sticker stuck in the other attachment, the one with the brush that he likes. So when I turned it on, it made this high-pitched squealing sound, making him take off like a rocket. I could hear Lennie Lew snickering in the kitchen.

One plastic box is almost empty. Only 5 more left to go.

I'm also doing these things this morning: spackling the guest bedroom closet preparatory to painting (so I took out all 20 tons of clothes and bags and paint that live in it); using the Dremel tool to cut doors in the new cat litter boxes I bought last night to keep Moe from peeing over the top edge; dyeing a load of clothes and a rug and a towel and some fabric a really bright orange; paying Donny (the guy who finished the bathroom) to start on the bookshelves in The EGE's study and helping him do the final measurements for that; putting the milagros back on the living room door.

Then I have to go buy a paint tray, which I forgot, and go to the liquor store where my friend David, the manager, is saving a ton of boxes for me to store the books while the shelves are being built. Then come home and paint the closet so I can get it dry and put the stuff back in it so we can use THAT room to store the stuff in the other room while the shelves are being built. No, I didn't know this morning when I started on the closet that Donny was coming today. When I talked to him last week, he was in Vegas with his wife, celebrating their anniversary. But he's ready to go, and I'm ready to have shelves. Hooray!

Sheesh. This is why I never get bored. This is also why I need about 6-8 more hours in the day, every day.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


This is what I did yesterday. Doesn't look like much, does it? But it took me all damn morning--just longer than you can possibly believe. Since I do not draw and have no calligraphic skills, getting these simple letters onto this door the way I wanted them was A Major Undertaking.

First I looked for fonts online, thinking I'd find one, download it, enlarge it, print it out, make a stencil of it, and put it on the door. Duh. Of course it didn't work that way. Couldn't find the font I was imagining. Finally I used one I already had that had some serifs on it that I could kind of see and use as a guide. Then I measured (gasp!) the space on the door and cut a piece of paper to size and then drew the letters and erased and re-drew and finally got them like I wanted them. Then I found some old carbon paper we got at an estate sale, and I used that to transfer the letters from the paper to cardstock, also cut to size. Then I began to cut out the letters with an X-acto knife. Bad idea. I'm not too sharp (har-har) with an X-acto knife, and the nice lines I'd made were all rough and ugly. So forget that. Cut the carbon paper to size, tape it on the back of the cardstock, tape THAT to the door, and trace over the letters v-e-r-y f-i-r-m-l-y with a pen. It didn't transfer well, being cardstock; but I finally got it. OK. Trace the letters with a Sharpie. That didn't work--it blipped and skipped and was ugly. Try to paint the outline with acrylic paint. That was even uglier. So I painted the letters--why is it that orange paint needs about a bazillion coats? Sheesh. It was true of the latex we used on the porch, and it was true of the acrylic I used on the door. Then I go back to trying to outline the letters. Finally use a Lumocolor medium pen, and that was swell. Whew. See? It took FOREVER. But I like it.

Today I dyed. Well, I also did other stuff, like finish the profile of One of My Very Favorite Artists ever. Held my breath while I let this person read it--and s/he was quite pleased. So that was wonderful. And I went to a two-hour meditation at the yoga studio where I sometimes go, and that was completely marvelous--I've never sat that long before (30 minute sit, then 10 minute walking meditation, then 20 minutes and 10 minutes alternating for the rest of the time). I felt better than I have in forever.

And then I came home and finished dyeing some rugs (yes, I'm reduced to dyeing rugs--I've run out of everything else already). And when I cleaned up, I swept a tiny bit of purple dye powder into the sink, and this is what it looked like. It was so gorgeous it made me gasp. So I grabbed the camera so I could show it to you.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wasted Days (& Wasted Nights)

I didn't wake up until 10 am this morning. That's unheard of for me. I had a headache--and that's unheard of, as well. I actually got up at 7 and took Benadryl. Whoa. Yesterday I had my eyes dilated yesterday. I hate that and tried to talk the dr. out of it, but he pointed out that I talked him out of it last year, so it was time. Within 5 minutes, I had a headache. I HATE those drops.

I thought yoga would make the headache go away, but the room was so cold and I was so miserable, trying to keep from freezing, that it just made it worse. I thought I could tough it out and go to sleep, but every time I woke up during the night, it still hurt.

So that's my excuse for taking drugs and going back to bed and sleeping in and not getting anything done today. I used to have headaches--sinus headaches--at least once a week. But after I changed my diet to vegetarian-except-fish-and-cheese and started doing yoga, I hardly ever hurt anywhere. Knock on wood. I firmly believe that the food has a lot to do with it--people just don't realize how much food affects how they feel.

Yesterday was a hideous day, filled with technological woes. I need to be able to record interviews on my cell phone. I have the connector that lets me do that on my cordless phone, but it won't work with the cell (I'm going to tell you all this in case there's someone out there who knows how to solve this on-going dilemma). So yesterday I get ready to do an interview, and the practically-brand-new cordless tells me its battery is dead. It's time to call the artist, and I have to go to Radio Shack and get a new battery. Of course, it takes a couple hours to charge, so I do the interview on the cell phone. But it won't accept the connector to allow me to record while I'm listening, so I don't get to record it and just have to type like mad. I go back to Radio Shack, and the guys there all insist that this should work on the cell. But it doesn't. And they can't tell me why. Rather than admitting they have no clue, they just keep insisting that it has to work. Then they try to sell me a Bluetooth set-up. That's when I tell them that they obviously have no idea why it's not working and that I'm going to figure something out myself. And I leave. Hurumph. I'm no better off than I was, but at least the new cordless battery has charged. Not that I need it today. And at least I got out of there without spending any money on a whole new set-up.

ANYWAY--so I bit the bullet on this hoody that got smeared when I heatset it and just went ahead and added paint smears all over it. You have to be brave and do what's scary, and paint smears all over something I worked on so long (check out the beads around the pockets and hood) is scary to me. It's in the dryer now, heatsetting. That's not the way to heat set--home dryers don't get hot enough. But there's no way I'm going to iron all of those painted places--and I want to see what happens when I wash it here in a little while.

On another note, I mentioned a while back that I'm doing the Journal Skirt workshop at and gave a link to it. I went the other day to check, and the workshop is listed there, sure enough, but it was listed as being taught by someone else entirely. It's supposed to have been fixed--guess I need to go check. Yep, it's fixed.

You know, when something like that happens, you have to wonder how much of your reaction is ego. I'm working on the whole ego thang, but it's tough--until you start paying attention, you don't realize how much your ego gets tangled up in things. For instance: I keep reading about altered clothing, how hot it is, how everyone's doing it. Magazines, zines, on-line. And never, not once, have I read a mention of my book, which was the first altered clothing book. As far as I know, it's the only one--if you don't count the just-t-shirt books. Now, there's no reason those people need to mention my book. And it shouldn't even be a blip on my radar--I did the work, I got paid for it, the book is out there so people can find it if they want it. But my ego, that healthy little brat, just hates it. The ego is like the appetite. You have to have it for self-preservation, but it can be WAY too healthy for its own good--and for yours.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Voodoo Cafe Needle Holder

Isn't this just the coolest thing ever? My friend Becky and her daughter Sarah gave it to me. Sure, it's supposed to be a toothpick holder, but they knew right away what it was REALLY for. It's perfect!

My Bathroom--At Last!

Hear Etta James singing "At Last." That's what I would be singing if I could sing. Here are the promised photos.

First you see the room from the door. It's tiny, of course--this house was built in the 1940's, when bathrooms and closets were tiny. Check out my shower, with tiles all the way to the ceiling and a Kohler faucet and shower nozzle--so it will last and not give me grief. Way more than I would normally spend. Now I wish I'd taken photos of it the way it looked for the first 17 years we lived here, with blue plastic surround in the shower--just hideous. The only things that date from The Old Bathroom are the bathtub (I wanted the old kind, not fiberglass or whatever they make them from now), the rugs and towels (just waiting to find the right shade of red, as these are 15 years old and pretty threadbare) and the groovy red hearts hanging from the ceiling. Oh, and the red heart lights, below.

Then in the next photo you can see the sink and toilet and cabinet over the toilet--all just the stuff you get at Lowe's--nothing fancy, just functional and the size it had to be to fit. I've seen spreads of bathroom renovations that cost tens of thousands of dollars. It's a BATHROOM, for crying out loud!

In this one, you can see the grooviest thing in the whole room--the red nightlight I got yesterday at The Dreaded Wal-Mart (yes, I do try to avoid that place--the corporate evil--but haven't been doing too well). It looks like a little rocket ship and reminds me of those bubbling Christmas tree lights from my childhood--when it heats up, the red liquid bubbles up the spiral tube inside. I LOVE it!

Then in the last photo (well, I hope it shows up last--with blogger, you never know where the photos will show up, even after moving and adjusting them), you see the light fixture over the sink and the red heart lights--also very old. If anyone knows where I can buy some more of these, please let me know--I love them and would like a couple spare sets but bought these 20 years ago--I know not where.

Those three big lights over the sink are so very bright it makes the whole bathroom look new and bright--I love them. The reason I got them was because the little white finials on the end match the towel rods and faucet handles, etc. And after the electricians left, I was cleaning the floor and looked up and saw no finials. I called them lickety-split and told them I bet the guys had thrown them away in the box. They showed up shortly--said, yeah, they had thrown them away in the box but had gone out to their dumpster (I'd already checked mine) and dug them out. Whew.

And that's it! It just needs the grab bar in the shower and some fabric art on the walls--which I'm going to start working on as soon as I get this pile of sweatshirts dealt with.

Whew. What a long ride it's been. But it's worth it--I can't wait to get a new stopper for the bathtub (they must have thrown away the old one) and sit in the tub with only the little bubbling red light for illumination and just sit there and enjoy the new bathroom. Hooray!

Trouble at the Voodoo Cafe

I know better than this. I know you always heat set the paint by ironing on the wrong side of the fabric. So why did I do this? Well--duh--I forgot to heat set before I started beading, and I wanted to make sure I missed the beads on the pockets. Plus I couldn't tell where the stamping was from the wrong side--it didn't show through. And so I ironed on the right side, and you can see what happened with the olive metallic Lumiere--and the paint was dry--it was like three days after I stamped with it. It's quite nasty looking--looks like dirt or grease. And the worst thing? I've done this before! So I should know, right? You'd think.

Now I've got to decide what to do. I could add more beads, but that would just irritate me, I think. I could sponge on some gold paint, but that might be gloppy and even tackier than the smears. Or I could just bitch and moan about it and wear it the way it is--I mean, really: the sweatshirt has the seams on the outside and cuts along the edges. If I were the kind of person who could wear stuff that seems dirty, the grunge look would be complete. But I think it would drive me crazy, that greasy-looking smear right on the front.

Grumble, grumble. Maybe this will be my final lesson about this--maybe this time I'll remember and pay attention.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Poor EGE

When The EGE is home, Lennie Lulu (named after Lennox Lewis, the boxer) goes nuts. She thinks he's home just to entertain her and cater to her every desire (treats, extra food, playing ball, a warm lap). She follows him all over the house all day long, whining and crying and doing all her cute tricks (falling over and holding her feet up in the air, meowing pitifully and tilting her head to the side--you know). If she acted like this all day every day, I'd have to sell her to the gypsies--I could never, ever get any work done. But The EGE is her Human, and she acts like this only on the days when he's at home.

Since he plans to retire at the end of this year, we've got to do some serious re-conditioning of the cat. For now, you can see that she's got it made in the shade--he's trying to grade papers, but she demands total adoration.

Purple Sunday

After almost two weeks with no sunshine, today dawned bright and lovely. The clouds came eventually, but first I sat out on the front porch with coffee and then got busy--raking, cleaning up the yard, pulling weeds. And then, since it was still so nice (it said it was in the 50's, but it felt much warmer than that to me), I cleaned out part of the carport and opened the can of purple paint left over from the porch. There are a lot of cans out there--orange and green and purple. I didn't know if they'd still be good, having been out in the cold. I stirred it up, and it still looked good, so I started looking around for things to paint. This little chair on the left was a kind of dark barn red--it's a very cool and funky chair that we got somewhere long ago--the seat had been replaced with a board, wired in place; and there's more wire holding all the parts together. It's spent years sitting on the front porch (the old, tiny one), and the cats use it as a perch. All the paint was peeling off. Isn't it lovely now?

Then, because I still had a lot of purple paint left and was still having fun, I moved to the front door, which I had long ago painted white and then stencilled with green ivy. It was pretty cool back then but has gotten old and tired and, frankly, dirty--mostly from where I kick the door to get it open. Got to buy and install a kickplate. When it's dry I'll replace the voodoo doll that hangs there and the group of protective milagros that I tacked on the front--a man, a woman, a cat, a cowboy hat, a gun, and a knife. Some bring protection TO things, and some keep things AWAY.

Now to put one more coat on the door and then, I think, go to the gym--which closes at 6 pm on Sundays. It's been a productive day--check back soon and I'll try to post photos of the finished acid green sweatshirt withh the text (I've been adding a lot of beads--I wore it last night to a Circle Supper, but no one said anything about it--they aren't into artwear) and--oh, my, really?--The Bathroom (gasp!). The EGE's sealing the grout, I think. All it needs now is the grab bar in the tub, but that's no rush--it's just for later, when we get old and really need one of those.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fabulous Friday!

Oh, honeys, it's fabulous for all sorts of reasons! Oh, sure--it's still cloudy and wet and colder than this part of the country has any right to be, but today I can't complain. Today is FABULOUS. First off, there's this fabulous fuchsia, which I adore. I just got my huge honking order of Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes (the only ones I know how to--or care to--use) last night from Dharma Trading, and so I once again have fuchsia, which is the hardest word on the PLANET for me to spell. Here you see three pillows--I didn't dye the whole pillow, just the cover--which are part of the load I bought for $3 each at The Dreaded Wal-Mart. Then there are a couple of hoodies and, in front, a hook-and-eye top from Dharma, which also sells terrific dye-able white cotton (and silk) clothes. The dye isn't straight fuchsia, I have to admit. It's like half hot pink, I think--I didn't measure but just dicked around with it until it looked right. Rich and bright and good enough to eat.

OK. Another bit of fabness is this: it began life as an Old Navy hoody, off-white with a stitched-on patch of metallic gold on the left chest. Well, ick. So I dyed it, took off the silly fake patch, and stamped with metallic olive Lumiere, from Jacquard. When the front's dry, I'll do the back. This is the first time I've used this alphabet I got from Hobby Lobby with a 40%-off coupon sometime last summer. Bought them and shelved them and forgot all about them (sheesh--I hope I'm not the only one who does that) until today, when I went to get another alphabet I haven't used and found these. Good grief. But they're terrific--they were so easy to use, with their cute little handles; and my anal-retentive little soul just loves the box with the tidy little slits and the images that show you just where to put the letters. Yes, I'm just one step away from pegboard with detailed outlines of tools stencilled on it. For clean-up, I just dumped them in a sink of soapy water. Don't know if they have glue that will come off after several dunkings; guess we'll find out eventually. But for now, they're most excellent text stamps for fabric.

And the final bit of fabulousness--Donny, the guy who's finishing up the bathroom, is here working away, making HUGE progress and making the bathroom, promised to be finished back in December, actually look like a usable room again after all this time. Whoa! What a concept! He's doing great work, and it looks so cool--I'd forgotten the whole concept I started out with--the red and black and white I imagined, with storage and places to hang towels and stuff--and so it's a real treat to see it taking shape.

He does frighten me, though. It's 32 degrees, rainy and icy and cold, and he's wearing--as he has every single time we've seen him--SHORTS. And a shirt. No coat! Man, here I am in layers and layers every time I venture out into the arctic wilderness, and he's in shorts, tennis shoes, and a shirt over a t-shirt. And teasing me because I said it was cold. He was raised here (he's one of The EGE's former football players), so it's not like this is normal weather for him. Sure, he's young--but I was NEVER, not even in childhood, impervious to cold. I even turned down the heat while he's here so he won't roast, so I'm REALLY cold. Probably mostly because whenever I go in to answer a question, there is someone in my house wearing s-h-o-r-t-s. Brrrrrr.

I need another cup of tea. . . .fortunately, The EGE called and will stop at Starbuck's (the opposite of The Dreaded Wal-Mart) and bring coffee! Hooray! A fabulous end to a fabulous day! I won't show the bathroom until it's done--but stay tuned: that should be reallyreallyreally soon!


What We Know

My mother wears, on her frail right hand,
a ring set with diamond chips and a large red stone
she likes to believe is a ruby from her father’s stickpin.
I once took the ring to a jeweler
and know the ruby is only glass
but have never told her. Or, if I have,
neither of us remembers.

My father has a piece of leather, off-white
and oddly stained. On it, in his handwriting
in blue ink: Camp Dachau 1946.
He was told it was human skin,

although, he says,
he has no idea if that is true.
He brought it home anyway.
It doesn’t matter to him whether this skin--
soft and supple, human or animal--
is proof that things happened.
He doesn’t need to feel the grain of evidence
between his fingers to know that things happened,
things beyond imagining,
beyond explaining with a strip of skin,
photographs, an urgent witness grabbing at sleeves,
saying Look. Look at this. I was there. I know.

He knows what he knows,
just as my mother knows the value
of her father’s stickpin, and I
am learning the beauty of light
refracting through red glass.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cool New Magazine!

I'm guessing that everyone else on the crafting planet has already read this and is smacking their foreheads, saying, "Geez, she needs to get out more!" because I'm just now discovering it, but there you go. My friend Karen sent me a copy she got at a cool craft show in Atlanta, and I was thrilled: I'd seen it (this is the premiere issue) at the bookstore but hadn't wanted to pay $14.99 until I'd had a chance to look at it. When I went back later to sit down and see if it was worth it--you guessed it--they were sold out. Hurumph.

But it's quite fab--it has artist profiles, which of course I love--and one is of Jenny Hart, whose work I love--she's a founding member of of The Austin Craft Mafia and just does the coolest embroidery.

It profiles Patrick Amiot and Liza Lou, too. I love their stuff for completely different reasons. His makes me happy; hers makes me think (and also cringe just imagining the work involved).

Anyway, go check it out!

Joy Sweatshirts

I've finished half a dozen sweatshirts and am ready to move on to something else--something other than the felt appliques. I think I'm going to try stamping text today--it's a little more difficult to get clean text on this fabric than it is on smooth, flat cotton, but I think I'll give it a try.

Here you can (I hope) see the stitching I added to three of them--I really like the way it looks, and it will hold things together when they get old and worn. Plus it's a fun thing to do at Starbuck's or while watching DVD's of Sex and the City, still looking for that episode that had the journal skirt. I've been carrying one with me everywhere, and I stayed up until 1:30 this morning finishing up The EGE's sweatshirt--"30" on the front (his high school football number--I made him give me a number to use--hard to think of a number you want on a sweatshirt) and "EGE" on the back, which always makes him roll his eyes, which I find delightful. This running stitch, in bright colors on soft fabric, is just a joy to do--it's relaxing, sort of meditative, and it adds instant color. The sweatshirt you see it on is navy blue--not a color I'd usually wear. But it's an XX Large, perfect for wearing on walks (lots of layering going on here this last week, what with the ^&%$# s-n-o-w and ice and crap) and, as now, over my pajama t-shirt. With the applique and the stitching, it loses its somber boringness.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I hate snow. I loathe snow. I've seen enough snow in my life--in a childhood spent largely in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah--to last me until I die. There's a reason I'm living happily in the West Texas Desert. And now this. Good grief. Oh, sure--it doesn't look like much to you, but think about this: we're not used to snow here, so there's no snow equipment--no plows, no sand trucks, no way to take care of the roads. Since it's been wet and below freezing for several days now, the roads are icy, and the schools are closed, and you can't really go anywhere. The roads aren't seriously icy, but there's the Gooberness Factor--the good old boys in pick-up trucks, like the one tear-assing around the parking lot when we came out of Lowe's last night with yet another $200 worth of bathroom remodeling supplies. He was having a fine time, racing his engine and doing donuts in the miniscule amount of snow and just generally being a complete fool in a huge vehicle on a slick surface. That's the reason you don't want to be out on the roads.

Forget the ice. Forget the snow. Beware the goobers.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Bad Boyfriend

My friend Wendy and I have both been going through Major Home Renovations, and we finally realized that--holy moly!--contractors are like boyfriends. They woo you, you offer them what you've got, trying to find someone who's willing to dance with you. It explains everything, including my recent painful break-up.

I had to let him go. It's been tough. I keep finding his things lying around. He left a lot of his stuff behind, thinking he'd be coming back again soon. But I couldn't take it any more--the broken promises, the lies, the other relationships he tried to keep secret. He'd promise to show up and then would be hours late, and while he was here, he'd take other phone calls and then mumble excuses and leave "just for a minute, to run to the store," and then not show up again for days and days. I knew then that he was with someone else. I never knew where he was or when he'd be back. He didn't call when he said he would. He didn't return my calls. I sat at home waiting for him. I carried my phone everywhere, hoping he'd call and tell me he was coming over, even if just for an hour. Anything! I needed him so badly! I stayed awake at night thinking about him, grinding my teeth and wondering how it would all end. Would we be together forever, dragging our relationship out an hour at a time, minutes stolen away from the others he was seeing? Or would it have a denouement, with everything finished and ended neatly? Or would I have to kill him, just to make it all stop?

In the end, I called and told him it was over. It hurt. For days, I sat around the house, looking at the mess our break-up left is its wake. But I've begun to heal now. I'm seeing others. I think one of them is going to work out. My New Boyfriend? I think not--I'm not ready to risk it again. Let's just say we're going to be very casual friends: no commitment, no promises. That way, if it doesn't work out, I won't have so much invested and can move on much more quickly.

I don't want to spread rumors, so I never mention his name. But everyone knows we were together, and they ask what happened. I shrug and say he just vanished--I think he met someone richer who could offer him more. Someone with corporate ties. You know how it is. Bad Boyfriends are so very, very fickle.

On-Line Interview

Megan Potter, with Create a Connection, interviewed me last week. Here's the result. It's always a lot of fun for me to do interviews from the other end--see what it's like to answer a lot of questions about yourself. It's good for me, too--so I remember what it feels like to talk about yourself. For some people, it's really hard. For others of us, well--let's just say that , with some of us, it's mostly a matter of getting us to shut up once you get us started.

On the art front--this morning is Acid Green Tuesday, with a tub full of stuff being turned to one of my current favorite colors. The EGE and I got hooked on acid green, purple, and fuchsia when we went to hear Tom Braxton here and bought a CD with those colors together on the cover.

I tried to dye a sort of grey-ish, tan-ish, really ugly-colored sweatshirt, to make it gold. It came out this absolutely horrid baby pooh tan-ish yellow, and so I hurriedly tossed it in with the acid green dye stuff this morning. I can't wait to see how it turns out--if it's still horrid, I'll have to add it into the bright green dye bath this afternoon.

I'm freezing--the electricians are here working in the new bathroom (the plumbers came Saturday and fixed all the leaks and got everything hooked up, and the new guy came yesterday and gave me the estimate for finishing out the trim and hanging the cabinet and stuff--but I have to buy and paint the trim first, which is no big deal except it's freezing here and will be all week, so if I'm going to paint, I'll have to paint the trim indoors, in the studio--what a mess)--anyway, so they're here and asked if I would turn down the heat--they have on coveralls so they can work outside on the security lights that the last guys left disconnected when they did the porch. It's positively icy back here in the studio.

See? It's just never-ending when you remodel. One thing leads to another, and then another. I hope to have a finished (except for the fun part) bathroom by the end of this week.

You think?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ageing Stuff

Chris asked why I cut slits in the sweatshirt. It's all a part of the ageing thing--making things look old and worn.

But, hey--didn't I just say I didn't like things that look like something they're not? Yes, I did. So what's my excuse for this? Well, it turns out that this is actually something I've thought about.n Here's what I think:

I was an only child, and I never had hand-me-downs. I heartily envied my cousin, who had an older sister who gave her soft, worn clothes. All my clothes were new and scritchy and stiff, and I felt so deprived. So whenever I got anything new, I always washed it immediately--often more than once, if I could get away with it. I still do. My Levi's (which I got on sale (an accident that the saleman honored) for $13.99 each--imagine! 501's for $14!! I bought every pair that fit!)) are in the wash for the 2nd time even as I write this--they're still too stiff, even though they're the broken-in-looking ones. I can't stand new clothes.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up with 8 brothers. You'd get something new, iron it and put it in the closet, and chances are someone else would snatch it out and wear it before you ever got to put it on. So The EGE always wears his clothes brand new, without laundering them first.

I like my clothes to feel old and soft and worn. So this whole aged look is right up my alley--I love the aged, soft, faded, worn look. And I'm collecting techniques for making it happen. One thing that works on denim is sanding--with actual sandpaper, yes. Another thing is to snip the seams, the bound edges--the edges of jeans pockets and waists. And so that was the slits I mentioned with the sweatshirts--cutting little snips on the edges of cuffs and pockets and waistbands, where the clothes would normally wear. It looks cool, but it also helps them to get softer and more pliable. I use a lot of hot water and bleach, including bleach pens (haven't had a lot of great results with those, but I keep hoping). Anything that gets the new off--that works for me. Of course, some of the sweatshirts are now looking pretty funky--turns out the cotton content refers only to the fabric--so the shirt itself shrinks some, but the zipper doesn't shrink a bit, making it kind of buckle and weave and look really funky until it's all zipped up. Freaked me out the first time I took one out of the dryer and found it all buckly and weird. And the threads aren't cotton, so they don't take the dye--lots of white stitching showing everywhere. That's OK, though.

Be glad--be very glad--you don't live in our house. It's a disaster--so messed up I can't find anything. The bathroom is still under construction, even though I bought the shelves and sanded them and covered them with white Contact paper--what a horrid job THAT was--and got all the stuff put back on them. Now I'm waiting on the plumbers (tomorrow, if I'm lucky) to do the bathtub faucets and fix the leaking toilet (meaning I made yet another trip to Lowe's today to buy a variety of parts, most of which I'll have to return) and install the sink and vanity. Then the electricians come Tuesday at 8:30 to do the ceiling light and the light over the vanity and the outlet. Then I have to get someone to come put up the cabinet and install the towel rack and finish the tile in the shower and do the trim. Some of it I can do--I've done a lot the last couple of days--but some of it just makes me nervous--finding the studs, drilling the holes, doing the whole molly screw thing. And I haven't ever mitered corners, so the trim would have a steep learning curve. Maybe I will, and maybe I won't--depends on how much someone else would charge me to do it. For right now, I just want it to be over, so I can return all the stuff I've bought and can't use--I have a whole stack of receipts for stuff that has been returned or may be returned or might someday need to be returned. Lowe's feels like a revolving door to me. Having a room totally torn up is a huge thing--not only that room is unusable, but the rooms that are holding all the stuff that was IN that room--two rooms of our house have been worthless for the past two months. I'm so tired of it. The stress of the whole thing (this was all promised by Thanksgiving) has been a nightmare. Which means that I'm going to have to have The Problem Child (the baby tooth, which is in big trouble and for which I'm currently taking antibiotics, which I loathe and avoid like the plague--believe me, you do NOT want me to get into a rant about the ignorant overuse of antibiotics) pulled and bridged, to the tune of $3000 (with insurance paying only 1/3 of that) and roughly 10 hours spent in the dental chair under sedation (we've tried doing it with just local anesthetic, but there are jaw issues that make it impossible for me to open my mouth wide enough--so they have to try something else so they can get in there--believe it or not, I actually have a very small mouth. Snort. No one ever believes that--it's pretty unbelievalbe to think of me as a small-mouthed person. Ha.)

Well, now that you're bored silly, I'll quit and go check out the cool orange stuff in the dryer--yet another sweatshirt, a huge overshirt, and a pillow cover.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Joy Sweatshirt #1

I can't even begin to describe how much fun this is. My house is a wreck & I can't find anything. My fingers are stained & I'm still in my pajamas. But, man! This is fun!

This is the first Joy Sweatshirt. I'm already working on #2. This one started life as a pale yellow hoody from Academy Sports, where The EGE and I spent some time this weekend. Poor guy--he shopped ALL weekend--Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. But what a haul!

Anyway, so this was pale yellow, 100% cotton. Nothing special. But on sale, and a women's medium. First I washed it, and then I dyed it--that was fun: I used golden yellow and hot pink. I'm low on dye colors and have to kind of make up things as I go along and run out of the colors I usually use. Normally I'd use lemon yellow and fuchsia to get a great orange. But I ran out of those long ago and haven't gotten around to calling in an order.

Then, after I dyed it, while it was still wet and before rinsing, I took some sharp scissors and cut slits around the hood and pocket and the ends of the cuffs and waistband. I think I mentioned that we've been going to Abercrombie and Fitch and checking out the aged sweatshirts there. They were on "sale," although their idea of "sale" and my idea of "sale" are, obviously, miles and many dollars apart. I almost bought one, anyway, for inspiration, but couldn't see myself wearing something with a logo on it. I don't get logos--oh, sure--I understand why they're so great for marketing, and I understand some people's insecurity about their own taste and their resultant need to brand themselves with someone else's assurance that they're stylish. Sure, I get all that. But why would you advertise for someone unless you 1) believed in everything about the company and its product and 2) were getting paid every time you wore it?

Oooh. Did I just begin to rant? Sorry!

So I didn't buy one there, but I did look at and touch and rub and study the letters. I don't have the industrial machine to make those old-style varsity letters, but I figured I could do an approximation that would make me even happier. NOT faking it--I hate things that are supposed to look like things they're not--like pleather and fake fur and fake hair. No--I wanted something close. So I got three layers of fabric--two flannel, with cotton in between--and sewed the letters and then cut them out and tossed them in the dyebath with the sweatshirt. Ironed and trimmed them and sewed them on, and there you have it.

Back to work--this morning I'm dyeing a fleece hoody and a huge white cotton shirt ($5.97 at Old Navy), making them grape. I'm also working on Joy Sweatshirt #2. Soon I have to leave for The Dreaded Wal-Mart to buy paint trays, so I can do more coats on the bathroom door, and contact paper, so I can cover the shelves I had cut yesterday at Lowe's, and more non-iodized salt so I can dye MORE stuff. Then I have to go buy more flannel--this is just too much fun! So I'll be painting the bathroom door, covering shevles, and sewing. One of these days I'll come up for air and clean up this house so there's not a huge bin full of dye stuff sitting in the kitchen, and the contents of the bathroom sitting in the guest room, and the piles and piles of cotton garments sitting out here in the studio--the stuff I've already dyed and am using for comparison to the stuff I'm going to dye--it's truly a disaster. But--yeah, it's true--I'm having way too much fun to quit now!

Friday, January 05, 2007

What You Gotta Do

Sometimes there's nothing else for it--you just have to chuck it all and give up. Remember the Bathroom from Hell photo? Well, that bathroom still hasn't been finished. I won't go into detail, as it involves someone else; and I don't want to bitch about someone else. No right speech there. But it's driving me nuts, and my body has begun to suffer from the continual stress of leaking toilet, no sink, every room in the house dirty and disrupted and uninhabitable. I think I have an ulcer. And one of the baby teeth--The Problem Child--has abcessed, as I discovered this afternoon approximately three hours after my dentist's office closed for the weekend. They'll get me in early Monday, if my head doesn't explode before then.

So I took a magazine and went out on the front porch, where it's 72 degrees, without a cloud in the sky. I had a glass of champagne and Billie Holiday on the stereo, and it was fine.

I feel much better now, thank you.

More Dyeing

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy dyeing things. This is the second of the two sweatshirts you saw yesterday. The green did hold, obviously--and it's not as acid-y as I hoped--in my efforts to get more green in the bath, I got too MUCH green. But I still like this shade of green--it's just the blue-ish ones and the emerald kinds that I'm not crazy about.

Now I'm preparing to dye two of these robes. I went to the fabric store yesterday after the gym--they're on the same street. I meant to get a yard of cotton duck, white, so I could dye it for some pillows for the new couch--I can't find heavy cotton in the bright colors I want. They had these robes--big, heavy cotton--on clearance. 70% off. I got two, thinking they'd be about $15. When they rang up for $10, I went back and got the last one. Now I'm washing them, preparing them for dyeing. I may leave one white for a while (until it gets the kind of formerly-white-dingy that washing can't relieve), but the other two are going to be BRIGHT. I'm thinking one will be purple and one pink. To dye something purple, I'm going to have to go back in last year's journal (which one? I don't know) and find the 4 purples I tested. I love one of them and don't like one of them--the other two are OK. I want to make sure I don't use amethyst when I want grape, or whatever. Got to go hunt for that now. . . .

Thursday, January 04, 2007

All Orange

After a day in the dye bath (you knew I didn't time it, didn't you? no counting, no measuring, no timing (except the first 20 minutes--I do time that part)), this is the smaller of the two sweatshirts you saw this morning, along with some formerly-white socks I tossed in.

Right now the other sweatshirt--the great big one I'm really excited about--is in the dye bath. I poured some of the dye down the drain--too green. But then, after I put in the soda ash, it was too yellow. So I wondered what would happen if I added some green at that point--after the fixer had gone in. Guess I'll find out--right now it looks great, but the later-added green may not stay in--I have no idea about how the chemicals work.

I need to get new gloves for this--the old pair has a lot of holes, so why bother? I just pull the stuff out and look at it. Now my left hand is a sickly green--like I have some horrid blood infection or something.

Journal Skirt Workshop On-line

Thought I'd better let people know that my Journal Skirt Workshop is being offered again this session on --go to this page and scroll down until you see the finished version of the WWSF Journal Skirt, above.

Journal Skirts are still my all-time favorite thing, and I still have the very first one I made, back before even I knew what they were. It's falling apart, and I'm patching the patches now--but that's OK. I love it still.

Sweatshirt Jackpot!

Hooray! I went to The Dreaded M-a-l-l and hit Old Navy. Remember I said I'd found sweatshirts there on-line for $9.99? (Mine are kind of like this, but without the zipper.) Well, it was even better than that--a very limited selection, but I got the one on the right (men's size huge) for $13 and the one on the left (men's small) for $5.97. Woohoo! I actually bought 5 for $5.97 each, but the others are dark colors. These are the two exciting ones--the small one is in the machine now, being dyed what I hope is a deep, rich orange. It's a bright orange (lemon yellow, tangerine, and just a bit of golden yellow), but the off-white color of the sweatshirt is going to make it deeper. I think--I've still got a lot to learn about colors and stuff. And the sweatshirts are about 14% polyester, so that will affect it some. We'll see. But for $6, I can't go wrong.

Then I'm going to try for an acid green for the larger one--it's been so long since I dyed stuff that I can't remember (what a concept--"remember"!) how I got that great color. I think it was mostly golden yellow with a little bright green. I know it wasn't the green itself, and it sure wasn't emerald. And I don't think I used lemon yellow. So we'll see.

I'm sorely tempted to drive over to Odessa, 20 miles west, to see what they have at their Old Navy. Wait--I don't even know if they HAVE one. Huh. I am so not a shopper. . . .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Beautiful Poem

I've been working on my own poetry and so am attentive to poems in general and just read this. Probably everyone else in the world has read it already, but to me it's new and lovely and just perfect--so good I want to write and write and write, but not quite absolute perfection, which would make me want to give up and go lie down. Please click here and read "A Brief for the Defense," by Jack Gilbert.

Grrrrr: Fleece

As you know, I do not know how to sew. Since that one horrible home ec. class in 7th grade, I haven't had lessons or instruction or workshops. I learned everything I know from watching my mother sew, but she didn't try to teach me anything--she didn't teach me any domestice stuff, believing that cultivating my brain and getting good grades in school was my only job.

So that's my excuse for sitting here this morning cussing at my fleece hoody. Or hoodie. Or whatever. I wanted to fix it up, like I said yesterday. And I had this great transfer of a page from a Kabuki
comic book by David Mack. I'd made it years ago, loving the page but knowing I couldn't use it on anything I made, as I usually end up selling stuff, even when I don't plan to. I try to use my own stuff on all that--stamps I carve, photos I take, etc. Or at least very old found photos.

So I got the transfer and was appalled to find how stiff and crackly it was--I don't remember ever using any transfer sheets that turned out that nasty, but I must have, at one time. I tried to work with it, but it made me itch--it was that horrid. So I found the comic and printed the page to fabric--ahhhhh! So much nicer! Even though I did lose a little color--wonder what's up with that? I can't even remember if I used this same printer or if that old transfer sheet was made with another one. Anyway--

So I tried to attach it with spray adhesive and then free-motion embroider on the machine, and what a huge disaster THAT was--it shifted as I was sewing, and it got wrinkled and I had to rip out all the stitching--what a crappy way to start the day! Ripping out free-motion stitching is a HUGE pain in the butt.

So I re-attached it, pinned it, used the other machine and a straight stitch to hold it in place, and THEN I free-stitched it. We're getting WAY more anal here than is good for me--when I have to be all precise and count things or measure and pin or whatever, I can feel myself backsliding into that horrid anal-retentive, OCD Organizational Hell from which I so narrowly escaped. Eeeeek.

So now it's sewn on, as you can see. And now what? I don't want to spend a lot of time on this thing, as this fleece stuff is not making me happy--the static in it is so intense that all the cat fur in the house leaps onto it when I walk through the room. I actually got on-line this morning to look at cotton sweatshirts--this is, apparently, the time to shop, as many are on clearance. That necessitates a trip to the mall--another version of hell (as you can see, I, who do not believe in hell, have many, many versions of my own). What I want (I think--I may be wrong) is a big, cotton, lined (or double-thick) old sweatshirt that I can stamp and paint and applique and bead and that will be long enough to cover my butt and at least part of my legs so I won't freeze when I wear it to the gym over my leggings.

I think I've seen these in those stores like Abercrombie and Fitch that are so hip and sexy and odorific from the sprayed cologn that my head spins when I go in them to check out the clothes--The EGE, who teaches 9th graders, is appalled by the brevity of the skirts and shorts and grumbles the whole time. I, on the other hand, can actually remember (what a concept! "remembering") my years of tiny little skirts and shorts that were so microscopic that they had no legs but were cut straight across, level with the crotch. The EGE found a pair of these in a box in the shed and held them up and looked at them and then at me and back at them and just shook his head. I offered to model them for him but thought better of it. These things make him rant about women's roles in society and self-respect and careers and hiring practices--fashion is difficult for a feminist.

So ANYWAY--any ideas out there? Something cool and simple to do with fleece? I'm thinking some beads on the edges of the kangaroo pocket in front--just something to cheer it up some. And I think I may make that trip to the (shudder) m-a-l-l. I mean, some of the XXX large ones are on sale at Old Navy for less than $10. Yowza!

In my own defense (as a person who tries not to consume so much), I did go to Goodwill yesterday. It must have been a bad day--on good days, it doesn't bother me that the clothes have been worn a lot. On bad days, I notice that the inside of the sweatshirts are all pilled up with fuzz and lint and possible Other People's Hair, which gives me the big chills. There were very few sweatshirts, anyway, and nothing I wanted. And I excused myself by thinking that people are probably coming there to find warm clothes they need to wear, rather than need to experiment with.

That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tiny Alterations

Sometimes there's not a lot you can do to clothing. This sweater, a soft, cuddly chenille one I got at Good Will and had to mend, can't really be painted or stamped or stencilled or appliqued. Well, it could be appliqued, but sheesh--that would be a LOT of work for something that's not going to last that much longer. So what I did was replace the buttons. It had these tacky plastic ones that wouldn't stay buttoned, so I cut them all off and replaced them with mother-of-pearl ones from my stash, which you can see in the box, above. They're large and non-functional, sewn through the buttonholes, so the buttons won't come undone every time I bend over.

They actually look better than this--I used mismatched ones in various sizes, and they're old and worn looking and very cool.

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to think about style--not fashion, not what's hip--but about style. In everything--from clothes to walls to pillows. And part of it is that I'm going to make even the most mundane things I wear something special, so that when I put on the grungy-looking fleece hoodies I wear when I take a walk or go to the gym or run to the store, they are ME--not just some sad old thing that's too soft and comfortable to give back to Good Will (talk about the ultimate recycling--that's what I do: buy it from Good Will, alter it, wear it, get tired of it, give it back).

Monday, January 01, 2007

Beer, Pork & Karaoke

Due to a lack of planning on my part, midnight on New Year's Eve found me standing in a stranger's living room, in a house way out in the county, surrounded by middle-aged white people who were drinking beer, eating various forms of pork, and singing "Mustang Sally" and "Love Shack." It's only the second time in my life that I've found myself in the same room as a karaoke machine, and I'd have thought that, surely, they would have long since gone the way of the pet rock and go-go boots.

But no. Imagine my horror as, one after another, people eating sandwiches made up of hunks of pig meat bathed in neon red sauce and swilling Miller Lite from the bottle gyrated their way through "House of the Rising Sun" sung at the top of their lungs around a mouthful of sausage and beer. Made for kind of gurgly renditions.

There are just places you should not go sober. Since I like to be sober, there are just places I should not go, including any place that smells of cooking pork or contains a machine that encourages drunk people to sing.

Well. To offset that Scrooge-ish note, I'll give you a photo of the beautiful peonies in our room in San Antonio.

No, I won't. Blogger won't let me. Grrrrr. Scrooge, indeed. . . .