Friday, October 31, 2008

Pig from Hell in Houston

I think someone is playing a cruel, cruel joke on me. Why? I have no idea why. Oh, you mean "Why do you suspect someone would go to all the trouble to find you in Houston and hire someone to torment you? Whatever in the world makes you think that?" Is that what you meant?

Well. Let me tell you the story. Go get a beer. I'll wait. I don't personally drink beer, but if someone were going to tell me this story, I think I'd want to have one at hand. Or maybe not. Maybe you should hear it on an empty stomach. That might be better for all concerned.

We got here-that would be Houston, Texas, home of the International Quilt Show (or one venue (I said "venue!") for it) last night in time for the Fabulous Bernina Fashion Show. I went to it last year and sat up in the Nosebleed Section, where all I could see was specks of color and sparkle (the Bernina Fashion show is heavy on the Swarovski crystals and metallic thread--hooray!). But this year, Kim Andert (I cannot find a website for her) couldn't attend to see her garment come down the aisle and so sent me her VIP tickets. Thank you, Kim! And where is your website?

So, after checking into our hotel--which is NOT the hotel we usually stay in, given that all of the La Quinta Inns and Suites in Houston are closed until Sunday, being full, apparently, of Galveston Hurricane Refugees--we had to stay here, right on Highway 59, where a steady stream of traffic passes just yards from our one tiny, tiny window. But that's OK--it's clean, and it's cheap, and Highway 59 will take us right to the George Brown Coliseum, where the quilt show has set up quarters.

Anyway--so we got to the fashion show last night, just a tiny bit late--meaning that they had started with the talking but now with the showing, and we got good seats at the end of the second row and settled in. All was well--it wasn't even too horribly cold. And, honeys, let me tell you: the quilt show every year is the very coldest I EVER get. I never, ever allow myself to get that cold at any other time. Last year I wore two skirts, two tank tops, a sweatshirt, and a jacket. And froze my butt off. This year I'm wearing jeans and a turtleneck. Yes: me in a turtleneck. I'll choke all day long, but at least maybe the freezing air can't blow down the back of my neck.

ANYWAY--so we settle in, and just as the show begins, this woman--This Woman--comes in and sits in front of us. She comes in and pulls the "Reserved" sign off the chair and peers at it over the top of her glasses, turning it this way and that as if it's some archaeological artifact. She's wearing nondescript pants and a sweater and has lank, greasy-looking hair, and when she finally drops the paper in the floor and sits down, I kind of cringe. If she were a man, I'd think she was some pervert lurker person. I'm sorry. That's horrible, isn't it? And I may not have ever even thought of that if what came next hadn't come next.

We're watching the show, admiring Kim's fabulous dress and all the other fabulous garments, and the woman sneezes. And I think, "Oh, great. Germs." Because she didn't have a tissue and just sort of wiped at her nose with her hand. Ick. But then. But then! She started making all these snorting and snarfing noises, and I looked to see what she was doing, and she blew her nose INTO HER FINGERS--no tissue!--and as I gasped and recoiled in horror, SHE LICKED AND SUCKED HER FINGERS. And then cleaned something out from under her fingernail with her tooth.

I'm thinking, "Oh, hell no." and not believing what I just saw. But. Yes, she did.

I am not imagining this. I am not making this up. I am not exaggerating or embellishing. This is the complete truth. It pains me to have to tell you about it. And, lest you pity this nasty woman, let me assure you: this wasn't "Omigod, I don't have a tissue and I'm so fascinated by this fashion show that I dare not get up and go get some from the many, many restrooms surrounding this room, lest I miss something fabulous" kind of desperation. No. She did it as if it were the natural way of things, eating your own snot. Because, honeys, she did it pretty much CONSTANTLY the whole hour and a half she sat in front of us. Except near the end, when she--get this!--took out her car keys and proceeded to clean her ears, wiping the key on her fingers. Maybe to give a little texture to the snot. Who knows?

You're wondering--I know you are--"Did she eat that, too?" I have no idea, because by that time I was hiding behind the program--The EGE, who was alternately laughing at me and struggling to stay awake (it was a Fashion Show, after all; and his interest in all this stuff extends only so far), would hear her blow her nose and hold his program up over my face. There was nowhere to move. I was trapped. I couldn't relax and enjoy the show fully because I was terrified that she was going to do something even MORE hideous. Although what would be more hideous than constantly sucking snot off your fingers (with smacking noises! which is why I began to suspect someone who knows me had paid her to be there), I do not even WANT to contemplate.

Now, you've got to keep in mind that this was not someone sitting under an overpass in a ragged trench coat with all her worldly belongings in a rusty shopping cart, having been booted into the street during Reagan's little snit in the 80's. No. This was a woman who was sitting in a chair at the Bernina Fashion Show, dammit, where one would expect a certain level of sophistication in the way of personal hygiene.

Well. That's the beginning of our quilt weekend. We're getting ready to head over to the actual quilt show, waiting until the bulk of the attendees--and I do mean bulk: although I know some skinny quilters, most of the women at this show are large. Some are very, very large. For years, they allowed the attendees to have those little suitcases on wheels, since there is a LOT of shopping being done. But finally someone realized that when you have a quarter million large women with lots and lots of hips, maybe extra luggage is just not the best idea.

So I didn't try to get breakfast this morning--I went down to the lobby and took one look at the line for waffles and realized it was best to just back away quietly.

So we'll be heading out soon. Meeting friends, schmoozing, shopping, looking and looking and looking, taking photographs and making notes. And keeping a wary eye out for a lurking woman with crusty fingers. . . .

[I read this to The Ever-Gorgeous Earl, and he says, "I'm Earl Zachery, and I approve this post."]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's Official

The exact title I wanted was approved today--woo-hoo! (This may not seem like much, but my second book has a title I hate and lobbied against ferociously, to no avail. Different publisher, need I add?)

So, in about 10 months, I'll be singing about:
Creative Time & Space: Making Room for Making Art

"Takin' It Back with Barack, Jack!"

Love this song!

Marching to Your Own Drummer

Anonymous left a comment on that last post about this, and it made me think. How do you march to your own drummer? For me, these are the ways I make my life what I want it to be, rather than what everyone seems to think a life is supposed to be:

--I do not watch television, although The EGE has one, and I did watch every minute of every debate (as soon as they were over, I came in here and rated the moderator for

--I seldom read newspapers, and never read news magazines. I don't want some commentator to tell me what to think. That was why I quit watching news shows, years ago: something would happen, and then every show would have a panel of Experts to tell you what had really happened and what it meant. Even though their interpretation often seemed like a lot of crap, they said it with authority, and then, later in the day, someone else would quote them as BEING the authority on whatever-had-happened. They were filtering reality for us.

--the only radio I listen to is Sirius and Pandora

--in short, I avoid advertising like the plague.

--I have a cell phone. I talk to three people on it: my husband (maybe once a week), my friend Wendy in Austin (maybe once or twice a month), and one of my vets (several times a week here lately). The land line is set not to ring, so I get only messages. I get one of those about every two weeks. So, between the cell phone and the home phone, I get maybe one call a week, tops, unless one of the cats is sick. I've managed to cut out almost all the marketing calls. I do not carry my phone around with me, and I do not check for messages. My life is not tied to this little phone. I see people who carry their phone in their hand all the time. They lay it on the table next to them, on the desk when they sit down. They lay it on the floor next to the machine at the gym. On the treadmill, they prop it up where they can see it (they can't hear it, since they're wearing headphones). These people are on the phone constantly (I interviewed someone who said she gets an average of 100 phone calls a day--a very active social life, she said.) These people are not living a life, noticing the world around them, taking in sights and sounds and odors. They are living life through a phone. How is that possible? Some of them are too young to remember a life before there were cell phones that made it possible to be in touch with other people no matter where you are or what you're doing. I am not. I remember that, and I like not being constantly in touch. There should be times when we are all unavailable. Unless you are the sole and solitary care provider for someone who absolutely MUST be able to reach you by phone (and if they need that much care, wouldn't you be physically WITH them, anyway?), then I can see it. But otherwise? OK, if you're on call for your job, maybe. But when else? When else is it vital that you be constantly available? Never. We've forgotten how to be alone with our lives and our thoughts.

--no blackberry, no PDA. I've never texted and can see no instance when I would need to do that. I don't get e-mail on my cell phone. In fact, I keep my cell phone set on vibrate and put away somewhere unless I'm waiting on a call. FROM MY VET (Cutie Pie is now on his third prescription eye ointment, and his eyes are worse than ever. He's also on antibiotics--he's been on either those or steroids pretty much for the last 6 months.) My cell phone is a tool for me to use. It is not a companion. I don't carry my scissors with me when I take a walk. I don't take my keyboard when I go to the gym. Why would I take my phone?

--I use the car only three days a week, when I drive it to the gym (I'm still working on that one--I tried walking to the gym with a backpack for my gloves, towel, and book; and it killed my back). I do not want to be tied to a vehicle. I like walking, being free to get up and go wherever I want with out thinking about traffic and parking and pollution.

--the only debt we have is the mortgage. I use a credit card but pay it off at least every two weeks. Usually I use it and then come home and send a payment online the same day.

--I walk every day. I try to know my neighborhood. Sometimes someone will come out to join me for a part of the walk, which is really nice: they see me every. Single. Day. And figure it can't be so bad, out walking.

--I do not own any clothing that has a logo on it. I do not own designer clothing. I try to buy only inexpensive, well-made (so it will last) white cotton clothing that I can then dye and embellish myself and KEEP. And WEAR more than one "season." I dream of clothes that will last a lifetime and become like a talisman to keep me company when I'm out in the world.

--I do not own an IPod. When I am out in public, I try to be aware of what's going on, of other people. This is good for several reasons: it builds community if we see each other and respond to each other. It's safer if you can see and hear what's going on around you. I see people with their headsets on, turned up to Blast My Eardrums, walking around obliviously. A friend of mine was mugged last week. She thinks part of it might have been that she was walking at night, talking on her cell phone, not paying complete attention to her surroundings.

--I am learning to take my notebook and camera with me everywhere. I forgot my camera twice in the past two days. The first time was Sunday, when I was taking the morning walk and saw this huge moving van and a shiny car. I walked over--it was a truck delivering a nondescript car to a guy in the neighborhood. But to get his car out of the truck, the driver had to unload another car that was on its way to Austin: a 1928 Packard Limousine in perfect condition. I wish I'd had a camera so I could have showed The EGE, who likes cars. Yesterday I saw big smoke downtown and went to see what was burning (we live just 10 blocks or so away). It was the building where my dad worked, long ago--a skeleton scheduled for demolition November 8th, now with smoke billowing and firemen everywhere and much excitement. I didn't have my camera. Again. So I forced myself to leave and come home and get it--trying to teach myself a lesson here.

I think you can craft your own life. I haven't gone nearly as far as some people--living off the grid, grinding their own grain, doing performance art in the street--and I don't think I'll ever be really interested in going there. Who knows, though? I want to keep my options open, because I change my mind about things all the time. What I do know is that, since I quit allowing myself to be exposed to advertising, which is even more dangerous than just tv itself, I've been so much happier and calmer. No longer do I even know what new thing I'm supposed to want. Remember where Hannibal Lector, in Silence of the Lambs, tells Clarice, "We covet what we see"? That's true: we seldom want things we've never seen nor heard about. We hardly ever lust after things we've only imagined. Our imaginations generally aren't that good, consumer-wise.

I want to be present for my life. When I'm out walking, I want to be out walking. I don't want to be talking on the phone or listening to music. When I work, I want to work. I don't want to be distracted by the radio or, horrors! television (I know people who keep theirs on all the time. We went to an open house this weekend, and there was a tv going in each of the bedrooms. It was puzzling: is that a house-selling tactic? And, if so, how?)

Some suggestions:

--get out and walk every day. Take a notebook (even a tiny one) and a pen or pencil and, if you want, your camera. Notice things. Make notes. Talk to people. Pet animals. Pick up interesting stuff (you might take a couple recycled plastic baggies if you're a magpie like I am). Make a chart about the weather, or the plants, or the animals or birds or your neighbors' lawns or the neighbors themselves. Be curious. Think Harriet the Spy. Be an explorer. Think you're too old to be curious? Yikes! Go buy some Play-Doh right now! Buy some chalk and draw on your driveway! Get over thinking of your age!

--Try to do one thing at a time and do it well. When you work, work. When you read, read without distractions. When you pet your cat, pet your cat like you're getting paid for it, like it's the only thing you could possibly be doing at that moment.

--Find simple, cheap, non-fattening treats. I'm learning to like tea. It's tough, but I'm making progress. I'm drinking several cups of decaf green tea a day. I'm learning to think of it as a treat. There's a reason why rituals work: you take something simple like tea, something that hardly seems special at all. You make a ritual of it: a special cup or mug, a certain chair with a plump pillow, fifteen minutes with a good book. It becomes A Treat, indeed.

How do you do the marching?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Too Much Information, In Which I Give You Absolution

Poof! You have now been granted absolution from Having to Keep Up with Everything. You no longer have to read every single e-mail that drops into your inbox. You do not have to follow every link on every blog. You do not have to Keep Up With the News. Not today. Not ever again. It's up to you what you want to follow, read, know, find out about. It's up to you what goes in your lovely brain.

Because, y'all, there's just too much information out there. It's everywhere--on your phone, on your computer, on your tv and radio and on the newsstand and on the magazine rack in line at the grocery store. In the break room, on the bulletin board. It bombards us no matter where we are. It's too much! There's no way anyone--and I mean anyone, even that geek kid who's plugged into everything--can know it all. No. Way.

And here's the worst part: it's not all good information. Some of it is fake, deliberately fake. Hoaxes, scams, chain letters--you know the stuff. Some of it is well-meaning but insipid, stupid stuff that people believe because they don't know any better. Some is true but worthless: do you really need to know what Paris Hilton (and I use her as an example because she's the only one I know of. She's not dead yet, is she? If she is, please 1) tell me and 2) provide another reference that I can use with impunity, OK?) eats for lunch? Do you need to know every glitch and burp in the stock market? Does it make your life better to know what one presidential candidate is saying about the other?

And then there's stuff that could well be important--information that could affect your life, stuff about your health and safety and global warming and overpopulation and bird flu and the likelihood that your town will be bombed any time in the immediate future. Things like that that are factual and useful. But: are they helpful? If you're already doing what you can to live right and take care of things as much as you can, do you really need to know about all the things you can't do anything about?

Here I'm supposed to say, "Well, that's for you to determine for yourself and your family," right? But that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying: No. You do not. You do not need to know all that stuff, the false and the true, the lies and the misinterpretations. Why? Because there's only so much room in your brain, only so many things you can think about and remember and recall and hold in your consciousness at one time. And I want you--all of you--to use that part of your brain--the part that's not given over to reminding your diaphragm to breathe and your eyes to focus and keeping your heart from stopping--I want that part to be filled not with dire warnings and gossip but with ideas and plans and excitement. Things to Make and Things to Do, which was the title of my favorite volume of the kids' encyclopedia. My very favorite: Things to Make and Things to Do. What a perfect guide to life. Oh, sure, most of those things were made of popsicle sticks and rubber bands and empty toilet paper rolls. But is that really so bad? Is it really so bad to have your brain filled with things you might make out of rubber bands and pipe cleaners instead of wondering if, oh, say, it's really true that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain is actually a "natural-born" US citizen?

It is not. In fact, it is so, so much better to sit down with a pile of old magazines and some glitter and see what happens than it is to follow those links and watch the video with the wacko lawyer and see the websites with names like "" and things that are just ugly. Just ugly. Did your mother ever say that to you, when you were being particularly uncivilized and unappealing? "Don't be ugly." Did she say it in that way that said clearly that she wasn't quite sure how in the world she was to be expected to take this raw, lumpy clay that was you and turn it into anything remotely resembling a socialized human being? Oh, mine did. Ugliness was something that would make her lip curl ever so slightly, as if contemplating ugliness was so distasteful, so beyond anything she'd bargained for, that she was beginning to question if I really belonged to her or not.

It was when my mother might just happen to mention The Great Unwashed. Oh, not saying I belonged to them, but mentioning them in an offhand way, a non sequitur kind of a way that didn't accuse me of being a changeling but came close, as in "No child of mine. . . ."

Ugliness. There's a lot of it out there. Not just in politics, but everywhere. It's just that the campaign has highlighted it, given people an excuse to let it loose--kind of like beer gives the same people an excuse to have sex with people they wouldn't want to introduce to their friends. You know.

You can't fight it. You can't erase it. But you don't have to live with it. You don't have to follow it or read about it. Ugliness is just like Information: it's everywhere, and some of it may, for some reason, be useful. But what's a better use for your fabulous little brain: filling it full of Information and Ugliness, or filling it with possibilities of Things to Make and Things to Do?

I'll take door number 3, Monty! I hope you will, too. Remember: I've given you absolution. So if your co-worker or mother-in-law or that bitch next door asks you if you've heard that your deodorant is going to give you breast cancer, you don't have to try to think of some polite response. You say, "No, I haven't heard that! I don't have to: I've been given absolution!" Then you can ask them if they have any left-over spackle and a couple of empty tuna cans.


Hey, Kathleen!

Hooray: You win! Send me your address, please.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hoop Dancing, Day 2

Oh. My. God. What a difference a day makes. And what a difference 160 psi 3/4" irrigation pipe makes, too. Yowza! Everything I read said that you have to have a bigger, heavier hoop. Did I believe them? Nope. Did I go ahead and try it anyway? Yep. Am I now convinced? Let's see. . . .

I followed Jason's instructions, here. Excellent and very easy. I used a handsaw, though, rather than springing for the ratchet cutter.

So we went out and found the pipe, which was more expensive than it was for him--it was like $32 for 100 feet. Got it at Lowe's.

Then I cut it with the handsaw, and The EGE muscled the connector in place so I didn't have to break out the heat gun. I would recommend heating the ends like it says in the instructions unless you have an ex-football player living in your house. Or unless you're on drugs of some sort and feeling particularly butch.

And it was that easy--look!
And here are the two I had before. The fuchsia one was the one I'd been trying to use. I thought it was Large. Ha. I switched back and forth between it and the New Real One--you cannot BELIEVE the difference until you try it.

It made all the difference in the world. I can keep it up (snort) for 5, 10, 15 minutes--until I get bored and try to get fancy. I still can't do any tricks or anything--and I don't understand how women can make it go up over their chests: it did that accidentally, and it HURT. So a lot still to learn, but I have a teacher now: The EGE picked up the new hoop, not having touched one since childhood, and on the first turn, starting showing off and dancing with it like he'd been doing it daily all his life. I told him I hated him, and then I decided to take advantage of it and forward all the hoop dancing videos to his computer and beg him to watch them and then teach me. He's the only person who can teach me physical stuff, for some reason. He taught me how to do all the country western dances before we started dating. So I could learn this stuff from him, if only I can get him to see what I want to know and then figure out how to do it himself.

Anyway, so then I covered the join with red duct tape and put a snazzy spiral with red electrical tape that I found with the help of my favorite guy at Lowe's, a man who knows EVERYTHING and remembers what I bought the last time I was there. He remembers better than I do.

I made six today and have enough pipe to make 3 more (not with the snazzy tape--have to buy more of that). I am NOT going to give these away on the blog--no trying to ship these babies--but if you come to my house and hoop dance with me in the front yard, I'll let you take one home.

Something Fun for You to Do: & Shiny!

Here's one of the things I did on this lovely Sunday afternoon. You'll need a package or two of little circular mirrors, some Super Glue, and some fishing line. Also scissors to cut the line.
Glue the mirrors back to back with the line sandwiched between. I did one with seven, one with five, and one with three, I think. Various lengths. I like the ones where they weren't spaced quite so Monk-ish-ly. I tied one end around a clear pushpin, stuck it in the ceiling where the lights would shine on it, and voilá!

One two of them I added some little acrylic stars I had lying around. Back to back--same way. Pretty groovy, huh? Can't wait to use those 40%-off coupons and buy more little mirrors--

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hoop Dancing, Day 1

No, y'all are NOT going to get any damn video. Not now. Maybe not ever.

You know those hoop dancing videos you see, where the dancer is lithe and graceful and makes it look like she's floating with the hoop? Like she's One with The Hoop? That's not how it is here at the Voodoo Cafe. No. I do not look like I'm floating with the hoop. I look like a hyena hacking up a hairball, heaving and flopping around convulsively. It's an ugly sight, and you should be happy I'm sparing your delicate sensibilities.

I did learn some stuff yesterday, though. Yes! Here's what:

1. They're not lying when they say it matters which way you spin the hoop. I'd been going counterclockwise. Why? I have no idea. It just seemed that was the way to go. When I read that left-handed people usually go clockwise, I thought, "Yeah, but I'm Different." Isn't that always what we think? We're special; the rules don't apply to us. Finally, though, not having any luck with the whole counterclockwise thang, I gave in and tried it the other way. Whoa. They're right (ouch). It does make a difference.

2. Music helps a LOT. I can't keep the hoop going at all when I'm out here in the studio working at it. But if music is on, and I pick up the hoop and try it, I can keep it up for long minutes. Music = Viagra for Hooping.

3. It helps to pour out the water. Yeah, that's right: water. I kept watching these videos and thinking how they looked so smooth and easy, and how my hoop was so cumbersome and awkward, and I thought, you know, maybe there're some weights or something in there making it unbalanced. So I started messing with it, and I could hear something sloshing in there. Huh? I looked at the little label, and it said, "Wave Action!" and I realized that it wasn't talking about the optical effect of the snazzy glittery tape on the hoop, but about whatever was sloshing around inside, that I somehow, up to this point, had failed to notice. Yes, I know: I'm not the most observant person on the planet.

I couldn't get the damn thing apart, and it was hurting my fingers, so I got a knife and was trying to pry it apart with that and then had one of those moments we all need to have more often, when you stop and look at what you're doing: prying at a small, slick, round thing with a sharp knife--and realize it's A Bad Idea.

So, instead, I got an awl and took the hoop into the shower. Because who knew what was in there?--maybe some kind of hyper-toxic gel or something. I didn't want that on the carpet or out in the grass where the cats might get into it. So, in my pajamas and socks, with the awl and the hoop, I got into the tiny little shower in our bedroom. It was a scene right out of Psycho, plus a hula hoop and pink socks.

And I stabbed the hoop and the "water" (it looked and smelled like water, so I'm assuming I haven't been poisoned by the wash-off from Kryptonite) poured out, all over my socks. And I drained it and shook it and kept whacking myself--did I mention it's a tiny shower? And finally just got out of the shower and took it outside and twirled it around and around. And thought it was all out. But all day long, whenever I'd pick up the hoop to practice a little, drops would shoot out, spraying the cats, who thought, as cats always do, that I was doing it on purpose. They loathe hoop dancing, in case you're wondering.

Today we're going to Lowe's to look for 3/4" pvc tubing, a coupler,and a ratchet cutter so I can make my own damn hoop. Wish me luck, 'cause you know I'm going to need it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Send Me Your Address!

Does mail never arrive at your house? Is it only bills, bills, bills--and crappy advertisements?

Well, sometimes I send mail. Sometimes I get postcards for one of the books, and I like to send those out into the world. And sometimes all you need to spur you to send some mail out is to get a little bit in the mailbox.

So if you'd like me to add your address to my mailing list--and I promise it's not going to be a BUNCH of mail because, hey! I pay postage on this stuff!--then send me your address. Maybe we'll help Real Mail make a comeback--who knows?

Send it to --

Artful Blogging to Give Away

For the second time in as many months, I've ended up with a duplicate magazine. Last time I convinced them to let me return it by showing them that I already had one. This time I didn't even try: I'm forcing myself to be more careful when I do my monthly Magazine Fest. These things cost $15 each, so it behooves me to pay attention, dammit, and not duplicate.
To further force myself not to do this again, I'm going to send this one out to someone who wants it but didn't succumb because of the exorbitant price. You wanted it but didn't want to spend the money? Let me know--and send me your address, 'cause this baby's going out today--

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Think One Vote Doesn't Matter? Think Again!

Thanks to the lovely Aimee for this--

Hoop-Dancing, Anyone?

I think I told y'all about the hoop-dancer we saw in New Orleans at White Linen Night, dancing in the street? Fabulous! So of course I came home and bought two hula-hoops--a small sparkly green one and a larger sparkly fuchsia one--and am determined to learn to do this. I can finally keep the larger one going for more than one rotation--woo-woo!--but am still losing it down to my ankles WAY too fast. I know there are tons of videos out there, but I'm hoping not to have to wade through them all to find one that's helpful. 'Cause surely someone has seen some good ones, right? And you'll tell me about those, won't you? Or you'll just give me instructions right here, because you're lovely!

I thank you. And so do my cats, who are terrified of me and my wayward hoop.

Practice Safe Voting!

Good information here, esp. for first-time voters. But I love it for the music--it reminds me of WAY too many film clips from elementary school. Yikes.

Remember This & Keep Paying Attention.


I read this:

"In 2007, when the subprime mortgage fiasco hit, think how things might have played out differently at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if cable news had spent as much time covering the liquidity crisis as it did the death of Anna Nicole Smith."

and said, "Anna Nicole Smith is dead?"

She's Just One of Us

"Since her selection as John McCain's running mate, the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 on clothing and make-up for Gov. Sarah Palin, her husband, and even her infant son, it was reported on Tuesday evening. "

That made my eyes bleed. So I looked at this instead:

A Minor Amusement

In my one Guilty Pleasure Magazine, O! there was one of those make-over things with the women from some tv show, one about bored housewives. And I was sipping coffee and looking at the photos and trying to figure out why three of them were more attractive than the other two. So I was moving this piece of paper, covering up first the eyes, then the mouths, trying to figure out Where Beauty Lies (yeah, yeah, I know: In the Eyes of the Beholder). Turns out, it lies in the eyes of the person being judged, too--I mean, I think it's the eyes (or in these cases, the eye make-up) that make the woman.
Anyway--I was moving this piece of paper and realized it would be way fun to have an Identikit kind of thing where I could mix and match eyes and noses and mouths and see what happened. So I got a circle template and some tiny sharp scissors and did this:
and pasted it in my journal. I saved the cut-outs in a little glassine envelope:
And then I switched them around, like this:
You cannot BELIEVE how much fun this is! I need an Identikit for real!
This really makes me think about what we think of as "beauty." You could do something like this with faces, sure, but also with furniture, clothes, colors, collage elements (make miniature copies, cut out and glue to sequential pages in your journal). Try different hairstyles on your own face! Different clothes! Shoes!
Perhaps I should get back to work, you think?

More Socks

Here's the result of yesterday's dyeing. It's always a crap shoot, since I mix my own dye, don't measure anything, don't time things, and do it differently each time. I would like for the top two pair of green socks to be a little greener, like the bottom pair, which I dyed first (see photo from yesterday). The first pair, I mixed the color myself: some golden yellow and some bright green--just the tiniest bit of the latter. Yesterday, for the second two pair, I used Dharma's own chartreuse, already mixed. I added a little yellow to it--maybe I shouldn't have, but it started out too muddy-looking for me, too olive.

I like mixing my own dyes, but because I refused to write down the recipes (the anti-OCD thang, you know), it never comes out the same. Which is cool, obviously--if I hated it, I'd do it some other way. Still, when I hit on a combination that's perfect, I wish I'd written it down (by the time the garment comes out of the dryer and I can tell it's perfect, I have--OF COURSE--forgotten the amounts I used. Which I didn't measure in the first place. . . .

I think my favorites are the first purple ones I did. They're grape. The other two are deep purple (too dark, too blue) and plum (too reddish). I love the colors--it's not that--it's just that the grape is a color I wear a lot.

The EGE likes the pink ones best. He's on a Pink Thang lately--it discombobulates the boys at school when he subs. They're amazed he wears pink, so of course he wears it even more. It's good for them to realize their testicles won't shrivel up if they put on a pink shirt or--gasp--pink socks. He's even using my pink cell phone case, just to dot the i's. Poor kids. But every once in a while one can be saved from a Life of Guy Beige. It's worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Let's dance!

The Shawl

OK, this one's for Darla--and anyone else who's interested. The shawl is a piece of cake except for wrestling the ribbons in place. No pattern. Get two pieces of flannel (this was already dyed those colors) the size you want and a piece of cotton batting the same size. Iron it all, lay it out flat, cut it whatever size you want (I made mine however big the fabric was.)

Figure out how long you want the ribbon (I gave a link to that in the comments for that post) and cut a whole bunch of them. A BUNCH.

Lay the batting on the floor. Lay a piece of the flannel on top of it, right side up. Lay the other piece of flannel on top of that, right side down. Pin through all three layers across the top. Then the hardest part: You're going to put the ribbon in place around three sides--the sides and bottom. Now, you know you're going to sew around the outside of this whole shebang and then turn it, right? And that will make the batting be on the inside, between the two layers of flannel, right? Well, you want the ribbon to be on the outside, hanging free. But when you sew it, it's going to be on the inside: so each piece of ribbon will lie across the edge where you're going to sew the seam, but the free end--the part that will make the fringe--will be INSIDE the sandwich you're sewing. Does that make sense? When you sew around the edge of this sandwich of flannel and batting, the only part of the ribbon you'll see will be the very tip of the edge as you're catching it in the seam. The rest will be on the inside. You're going to need a LOT of pins.

If you're not a seamstress (like me--I figured this out as I went along--oy!) and this is confusing, another way to do it is to bast the ribbon pieces to one piece of flannel and then make the sandwich, but then you're going to have to wrestle all those ribbon ends into submission as you pin the sandwich together.

What I'd do: get a little handkerchief-size piece of fabric and batting and a couple pieces of ribbon and make a maquette--a little model--and see how it works.

In short, the shawl itself is nothing. It's just making those ribbons cooperate. I'm sure there's an easier way to do it; but, like I said, I'm no seamstress and just muddle my way through. So you can, too! Good luck, and have fun. And if you're doing this sort of thing, you should be a member of the altered artwear group, anyway; and if you are, then you can post to the group as you have questions (if you decide to try this) and one of the people who REALLY knows how to sew can help.

I Hate Singing

The only person I would actually pay to hear sing would be Aaron Neville (go there and hear why), provided I don't also have to look at that mole on his face. Doesn't that man have a dermatologist?

So it's a good thing the tickets were free last night. We went to hear 3 Mo' Divas! (go there and hear why I'm whining), a trio of Classically Trained Vocalists who performed in a "Concert Smashing Musical Barriers." The subtitle meant, I think, "Black Women Can Sing Whatever They Want."

Indeed. Only in Midland, I'd guess, would anyone be surprised to hear black women sing an aria.

Or whatever it was. Because, listen: I do not like singing. My least favorite kinds of singing are 1) opera and 2) soprano. In short, I do not like things that go up high and hurt my ears. And, oh, honeys! Last night was full of it!

Now, the concert was fun. The singing was spectacular. A good time was had by all. The Phyllis and Bob Cowan Performing Arts Series brings free entertainment to Midland, and we're very, very lucky. (And I'm baffled why more people don't take advantage of this--the building should have been packed.)

But I spent the evening being jolted upright by sounds so loud and high-pitched they made me want to throw back my head and howl forlornly. Because not only did we get the singing, we also got the screaming: we sat next to a woman who may well be the most enthusiastic concert-goer in the history of the world. She clapped. She yelled. She talked to the singers. She screamed--literally, just like those girls used to do when they saw The Beatles in person.

And, thank you, jesus, she finally got up and moved during intermission, as she found someone who would give her a Purple Ticket. Because, in Midland (how about in your town?), even for free events, there has to be A Special Place for the Special People. The benefactors and supporters need to have reserved seats. That makes sense, right? They coughed up some money; they deserve to have the best seats. But what's funny to me is that they don't just rope off a section down in the front. No: they actually set up the chairs so there's a separation of about 10 feet between us, the hoi polloi, and Them. So it's a show as they walk past The Regular Seats to go sit in The Reserved Seats.

The EGE and I--and this Loud Woman--were in the front row of the regular seats, which was fabulous: we had plenty of leg room in the space before The Special Seats began. The chairs were exactly alike throughout. So we could see, we could hear, and, because of that little No Man's Land of space, we could move our legs.

But this woman couldn't let it alone. She wanted to be in that front section in the worst possible way, and she kept trying to find someone who'd let her have A Purple Ticket. She was not young and silly; she was in her 60's. And did I mention that she was loud? Oh, so loud.

Now, I'm not so white that I'm not used to people talking to and interacting with preachers and singers and performers and speakers of all kinds. No problem. I'm not usually one of Those White People who sit like a statue and then clap politely at the ends of things, with pursed lips and a straight back just like I was sitting at a meeting of The Junior League.

But last night I was: I was that white statue, motionless and quiet. Because I could not move! I couldn't have clapped to save my life because this woman was clapping in such broadness that her arms crossed my body with every clap, pierced by screams of delight.

So: I'm sitting, arms wrapped around my bag, trying to stay out of the way, and every few seconds there's a high note on stage, which makes all the hair on my arms stand up, and then this woman screams in appreciation, and my eardrums actually retract further into my head. I can feel them! I'm as tense as hunting dog at a basketball game, where the whistles blow constantly and nobody knows what will happen next.

I longed for ear plugs and remembered once being in a gay bar in San Antonio with music so loud that I feared for the future of my cochlea and finally got some kleenex and wadded it up and spit on it to make little earplugs, which possibly saved my life by keeping my eardrums from exploding and exsanguinating me. Fortunately for me, last night, the Loud Woman finally found someone to give her the coveted Purple Ticket during intermission. She came to say goodbye, and we smiled, and The EGE leaned over and whispered, "Good riddance."

So while the second half was still very sing-y and high, in a very soprano/opera sort of way, at least the high notes were farther away and not right next to me in the cheap seats.

Girly Girl & Shoe Lust

Maybe I'm finally ready to talk about it. If I were young and weren't used to this, it would make me think I'd been possessed by alien forces and compelled to shop. Alas, I can't blame it on anyone else (you will see, however, that I give it a good shot). I can, however, blame it on hormones. See if you agree!

Throughout my adult life, there have been periods of sanity, when I wore sensible clothes and eschewed make-up and clad my feet only in running shoes and Birkenstocks. And then there have been Other Periods, periods of time in which I suddenly long to shop, and I began putting on make-up (or my pathetic version thereof) and wearing--gasp!--heels. (Again, my half-hearted version.)

For much of my younger years, I wore men's clothes--jeans and sweatshirts, running shoes (I don't know about y'all, but when I was younger, it was hard to find women's shoes in anything larger than a size 9. I wore a 9.5, and I finally got tired of them telling me, over and over and OVER, "We don't carry these in that large a size.") and boots. I even had a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the elbows, because, when I was a kid, I had always imagined myself Being a Professor, wearing such a jacket and smoking a pipe. Either that or Being an FBI Agent, the ones who wear black suits and ride on the running board of the presidential limo.

This tells me two things: One, I watched too much footage of the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination at an impressionable age (hence, the running boards) and, two, I apparently somehow believed the same thing my friend Craig's mother used to tell him: when he was little, she'd tell him about things she did as a kid, saying, "When I was a little boy. . ." and "When your sister was a little boy. . ." Craig grew up thinking he was going to turn into a woman, an idea which did not appeal to him in the least--he was not a boy who had aspirations of becoming a glamor queen and, instead, was a little boy who was destined to grow up to become deep-voiced and very hairy. But! It was a terrifying time for him! And although my mother never told me about being a little boy, it seems that, somehow, I assumed I'd grow up to be a man. I had no DESIRE to be a man; it's just that everything interesting was done by men. See? Being a Professor and Riding on Running Boards were vastly more interesting to me than, horrors! having babies! Or cooking! Cleaning house! Having to wash my hair! Aieeeeeee!

I wanted to explore: we tried to dig a hole to China. I wanted to build things and find stuff and crack open rocks to find out what they were made of. And women? Well, they didn't get to do that. They wore gloves and pearls and sat in the house and played bridge when they weren't scouring everything in sight with Ajax and an old toothbrush.

Only one problem with the whole scenario, though: In addition to thinking boys got to do all the fun stuff, I also thought they were cuter than anything, even kittens. They made my heart beat funny. So I didn't want to BE one.

So. OK. I didn't grow up to smoke a pipe in the halls of academia. But I also didn't grow up having babies and getting bikini waxes, thank you, jesus. And I've gone along for most of my adult life being what I think of as sensible. But! Every once in a while, something takes over. I'll find myself with 2-inch silk-wrapped fingernails and EYELINER, for crying out loud. I'll open my closet to find a row of Norma Kamali dresses and three-inch patent leather pumps. Where in the hell do those things come from, anyway? Things happen, and I learned just to go with it.

And it's happened again. Remember last year, sometime, I said I was giving up make-up? And I did. And I'd weeded out all my girly shoes and was happily wearing my Birks and my Keens. And then, BAM! I walk into the sewing studio and there, lined up in a cute little row, are these:


were also there, but I came to my senses--however briefly--and returned them.

I can blame the first two pair on my friend Wendy, who's a Dangerous Shoe Enabler from way back--I should know by now not to open any note from her that has the word "shoe" or "boot" in the subject line. She bought a pair of 3-inch heeled boots and walked all over New York City in them and then told us about it, and something about that adventure, something about the sheer cosmopolitan, post-Sex and The City coolness of it, just did me in. Plus she sent a photo of her wearing the boots with some black and white striped tights. Hence the boots. And the bootie-slide-clog things, too.

But these? I can blame these only marginally on Wendy--she DID get me to go to the shoe department, after all. Otherwise I never would have seen these and would have remained Safe From Them. But once I saw them? I was sunk: they look EXACTLY (well, as far as my pitiful memory will allow me to imagine) like a pair of shoes I had in high school. And took to college and went dancing in night after night at Uncle Nasty's.

What was I doing in a place called "Uncle Nasty's"? Same thing: hormones!

So now it's with the eyeliner and eye shadow (still, so far, steering clear of the Mascara of Doom) and these cute shoes, and of course shoes like this need socks. So here's my kitchen this morning:

Woo-woo: $1 socks from (I hate to admit it--hormones made me go there!) The Dreaded Wal-Mart. 69% cotton, so I wasn't sure they'd take the dye. I got two pair and did them yesterday:

Cool, huh? So, being me, I'm doing another dozen pair today.
You know, this might not be completely attributable to hormones. I kind of get the sense that it's my body/mind's way to going, "Hey! Apparently we're NOT going to be dying as soon as we thought!" Because this last year, with the neck and the back and the mole and the surgery and physical therapy and warnings about paralysis and incontinence and skin scans and sunblock and on and on and on--made me feel like I was about a million years old and probably at death's door, never mind that I felt fine and hadn't yet begun to pee on myself. Well, not with any regularity, at any rate.

When the hormones--or whatever mental chemical stew--subsides, I'm going to be standing in front of the open sock drawer, going, "What the hell are all these skimpy little socks doing in here? Where are my warm fuzzy socks, damnit? And somebody bring me some fucking Depends!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Skin Thang

I realized that I need to post an update on the whole melanoma thing in case anyone's wondering--and in case I forgot, since it seems I did already but then maybe not. As with all else in my life that requires A Memory.

Everything is fine--we went up to Lubbock to see a dermatologist--my tattooist's dermatologist, someone used to looking through a lot of ink. He did another check of my skin and pronounced it fine, plus he looked at all the lab reports and said that, in the cases of melanoma in situ, half of pathologists would call it melanoma and half would call it just an abnormal mole. So, he said, it may never have been anything that would eventually become melanoma, anyway.

That was kind of weird, as I didn't know how to think about it for about a day. What had it been? And was I Someone Who'd Had Melanoma, or not? Does my skin now require Hyper Vigilance, or not? And then it just all went away. I quit thinking about it and barely notice the scar, which looks a little like a daisy on the back of my leg, given the placement of the stitches and the scars they left.

So all is well. Kind of like a weird dream. Of course, I won't be lying butt nekkid out in the sun any time soon. Hey, I heard that! I heard y'all collectively sighing and going, "Thank you, jesus, for that." Quit that right now or I'll show up at your house in my rooster costume.

Another Vintage (!) Rubber Stamp Alphabet to Give Away

Yep. Another one. I bought this one, in its cool wooden box, years ago at an antique store for what I remember being rather a lot of money.But I've never used it. Oh, I've tried a couple of times, but its funkiness is not the kind of funkiness that I like--the letters are very old, and they don't print clearly, which drives me insane, of course. So I took these out of the box and put a new alphabet, in the same font, in it. So now I'm very happy, and I'm using them a lot.

You won't get the box (or these little acrylic holders), but you will get a complete alphabet, upper and lower case, numbers, and some symbols. All for free! If you like old and vintage (aieeee!) and generally funky, you'll love these. I see them being used for some sort of antique card- or altered book-making endeavor. They'll need to be coddled a little to get a decent print, but I think you'll like them.

Post a comment and tell me what you'd do with them--I'm sure there are some great ideas out there.

Hey, Babsarella!

Send me your snail mail, and I'll send you this Box o' Photos! Congrats!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Playing Dress-Up

The Ever-Gorgeous Earl finally had time today to take some photos. Remember the lovely duster given to me by Robin when we went down to visit for the piece on Magnolia Pearl? It had lace that I cut off and gave away, remember? Well, here's what I did to it. I put a flannel heart on the back and beaded it, and I took some hand-dyed orange/pink/fuchsia velvet ribbon I'd gotten from Maria Teresa Stoa at Earth Echos (her website seems to have vanished), tore it in strips, rolled it and stitched it in place by hand around the bottom, the middle, and the sleeves. It's still luxe, but it's no longer frou-frou, thank you, jesus. I love the velvet, but lace just isn't me.

I tried it with the flannel shawl I made a while back (last year? the year before? can't remember)--I thought the colors were fabulous.
Yeah, those are some of my Shoe Lust indulgences.

Then here's the Joy Jacket I'm working on.You've seen at least one of these--the purple one. There's a green one, and the pink one is at the magazine, being photographed. This still has work to go--it's what I'm working on right now--you may be able to see the purple stitching at the hem and on the sleeves and on the front. I was interviewed the other day by Allison at CraftCast--I'll post a note when it's going to be aired, in about 6 weeks--and she asked what I was working on, art-wise. I told her all I'd been doing lately is stitching artwear--when I'm working on a book and doing the interviews for the magazines, I don't have much creative energy left over for involved projects. So I get a lot of handwork done on my clothes.

And then this. Hee. It's the dress I made exactly 40 years ago, in 7th-grade home ec (which I loathed). The last time I tried it on, years ago, it was a little snug. So of course I had to try it on again today. Don't you think I should wear it EVERYWHERE? Yeah. Uh-huh. Especially with those daisies. I was so very happy to see that I did NOT manage to put them over the chest.

And that's what's been going on around here today.

Vanity Sizing

I really do need to get out more. Who knew there was a name for this? And in my search I found mention by men of Levi's being vanity sized, too. Ha. I didn't imagine a thing.

Not even the spiders.

A Rant About Size

Well, I'm doing the Happy Dance today, as I am, once again, at my All-Time Perfect Weight of 125 pounds. Talk about silly.

It's funny to me: when I was in junior high, I hit my adult height. I was 5' 8" and weighed 125, which I thought then was Too Fat. My mother, always a tiny little thing (she had an 18-inch waist up until she got pregnant at 30), was a couple of inches shorter and set out to prove that she could weigh more than I did without being fat. I think she got up to 130 and then just couldn't stand it any more.

When she died, she weighed about 90 pounds and thought she was too fat.

I've weighed more in my life--much more, in high school and college, when I began taking birth control pills and ate everything in sight--and I've weighed less--not a lot less, of course--there's not a whole lot of room to go from here.

I began gaining weight when I started running and working out, and for years I've been around 135. When I quit drinking wine (sob), I started losing weight, and I wondered if I could get here again without actually "dieting," in which I do not believe. ("In which I do not believe"--jesus. Just slap me, OK?)

And here's the irritating thing about all this: you know my wardrobe. It's a bunch of bright skirts and some funky cut-offs and then my favorite Levi's 501's in various sizes--remember when I caught them for $13 a pair and quickquick bought up every size I could possibly wear before the guy changed the sign? I had size 33, 32, and 31. I didn't get any 30's because I couldn't wear a 30 at the time. Or so I thought. Because here in the last couple of weeks, I had to go buy new jeans. I got a pair of 30's and brought them home and washed them, and dang if they weren't kind of baggy. Now, I thought, well, gee, maybe my body shape has changed just the tiniest bit, since I am officially OLD now and all. And so I went out and bought a pair of 29's. Yes. And I was feeling all groovy and shit, you know how it goes when you fit into something in a smaller size than you used to. Aren't we silly that way?

And then the logical brain took over and said, "Nah. That can't be right." And so I went out into the Fucking Edifice and dug around in the many bins marked JEANS and PARTS OF JEANS and JEANS FOR SKIRTS, and of course I came up with 4 pair of size 29 501's. Old ones, from back in The Day. Not MY day, as these weren't jeans I'd ever worn. Salvaged jeans--you know. I used to collect 501's in every size for skirts and bags and whatever.

And I bought these jeans in the house and turned them inside out to check for black widows. Now, it's not that I just randomly take all my clothes and turn them inside out to check for poisonous spiders. No. We're not there yet. It's that we actually do have black widows at our house, and I startled one in the lawnmower shed just last week, and the lawnmower shed is attached to The FE, and so I figure there are some in there, too, and I sure didn't want to try on a pair of pants that had a black widow in them and then have to call Mendez and tell him I needed to come in because a spider had bitten my pookie. That's a conversation I can live without, you know?

And I tried on those jeans, and you know how it was: those suckers were so tight I couldn't breathe. I could barely get them buttoned, and there's no way I could move. Plus they were just tacky-tight. You know, when pants are so tight you look like a bad joke? They were, indeed, a size 29.

So I started to rant. I ranted about how, rather than force the American public to face the fact that we're fat and getting fatter, oh, no: we just make the sizes bigger. Yes! So everybody can be A Size 8, just like in the old days when that was The Perfect Size. And it's just such a crock. Once I had a size 6 skirt. The only reason I had this skirt was BECAUSE IT WAS A 6. I bought the stupid skirt because I could Fit Into a Size 6, like that was some real accomplishment that was going to win me Fame and Fortune. When we read about some model wearing a size 0, well, duh. Soon they're going to have to make sizes in negative numbers, and those are still going to be way larger than, oh, a size 4 was 30 years ago. I remember when size 4 was about the size of the palm of my hand. They were so tiny they looked like doll clothes.

So we're really that silly, aren't we? I had that size 6 skirt only because it was a size 6 and I thought it was so cool that I could wear it. They make the sizes bigger and bigger so that we'll go, "Ooooh! I can fit into an 8! I'll buy one in every color!" And it works!

Sheesh. So we really have no idea what size we wear and can't ever order anything by mail because we have no idea if it will fit. We need to make the sizes standard. Period. If we have to face the fact that we're wearing a size 205, then that's what we've got to face.

And while I'm at it, let's rant about the length of jeans. Because both pair--29 and 30--are supposed to be 34" long, which is just about long enough (I need a 35, but they don't make those). Only, one pair is a full inch longer than the other. This drives me nuts. If it's 34" long, then it should BE 34" long. Not 33", not 32.5" Don't these people have tape measures? What are they DOING? I think they're all on crack, just randomly guessing at measurements and making one leg two inches shorter than the other and then laughing like goobers. Then they go have sex under the cutting tables and draw on each other with tailor's chalk.


So right now I'm sitting here in my XXX-large pajama pants (with the hems ripped out because they weren't long enough), a men's XX-large t-shirt with the neck cut out (because it was too tight around my throat), and an X-large long-sleeved shirt on top (because it's colder than shit, and I'm NOT turning on the heat). Who knows what sizes these really are? Who can keep track of this stuff any more? As long as I can keep them up (they have a nice drawstring, so we're good there), I'm going to stick with them until they fall apart.

The EGE and I went to The Dreaded Mall the other day (the whole Shoe Lust thang), and he found a bunch of khakis on sale and was going to buy them. And I asked, "Aren't you going to try them on?" And he said, "No. They're the right size." And I rolled my eyes and reminded him of the jeans. He tried them on.

You pretty much have to go shopping in your bathing suit: nothing else, just your bathing suit. So you can try on EVERYTHING, from socks to hats. Otherwise, you'll be me, sitting here wearing a bunch of ratty old clothes, terrified of even trying to find anything that's going to fit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Deal from Cheap Joe's

No, I have no affiliation with Cheap Joe's. I'm not even shopping for art supplies, since I'm coming down off a major hit of Shoe Lust--more about which at a later date, as I recover more fully (i.e., return at least one pair of What-Was-I-Thinking? leather slides). But I thought someone out there might be needing $100 worth of something, and whoever you are, you deserve to save a little.

Now I'm off to bed to read and try to get warm. My friend Roz, in Minnesota, will laugh herself silly if she reads this, thinking as she does that anything above, oh, 0 degrees is positively balmy. Silly woman. Our house has been around 71, 72 degrees all day long. We keep it at 78 or 79, year 'round (well, 80 in the summer--we haven't had the ac on in several months--we think the only two times we've turned it on since July were the two times we were out of town and turned it on just in case it got too hot for the cats). But I'm determined not to turn the heat on before November 1st, so I've just put on layers and layers and then bitched a lot.

To top off my bitchiness-inducing day, I watched and--again--rated the presidential debate. I'm not rating the candidates, but the moderators--as part of a citizen effort to force the media to be more responsible, less silly--focus on issues, not gossip and personality and just general idiocy. So I've watched every single minute of every single debate, which equals my tv viewing time for the next century, pretty much. I was pleased with the way Sheifer (Sheiffer?) handled this one, and I've been satisfied with the others, pretty much. But it's sad to me that the people moderating are all older, more stately--schooled in the way of journalism, unlike the generation of media hounds who've grown up with inflammatory "gotcha" media silliness. When the old guard is gone, what will we have? Whenever I see someone emoting and gesturing and injecting opinion into a news report, I always think, "How would Walter Cronkite have handled this?"

Yeah, I'm that old. And so to bed.


What do you use for wastepaper--you know, the paper under whatever you're painting or gluing or making a big mess on? Have you tried old newspapers only to curse them when they transfer that nasty ink to your work? Here's my stack:
There's last year's Rio Grande jewelry finding catalog, and the phone book that got replaced this week when they tossed the new one up into the yard (just tear the used sheets out as you go--toss them into the recycling), and then the drafts of all the articles and book chapters (I put a big Sharpie "X" on them when I'm done so I'll know it's a draft I no longer need to keep). Because I don't trust technology (having had it fail in rather spectacular manners on several occasions), I print out work at the end of every work session. So if I work for an hour and then stop to go do something else, I print. If I come back and work some more, I print again (I'm "saving" all along, constantly, of course--as one editor put it, saving is like a nervous tic). I use paper salvaged from a printing company, so it's not new paper. And I do recycle it all, every shred, when I'm done. In between, though, I get one more use out of it as glue sheets. That's not bad, and I don't have to feel guilty for using paper: I get paper that would otherwise be thrown away. I print on it. Then I use it for glue sheets. Then I take it to be recycled. I can feel pretty good about that, I think. Sure, it would be ideal to go paperless. But that's not going to happen, I don't think.
Anyway, hope this gives you some ideas for your own gluey messes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Forget to Eat!

There aren't a lot of people to whom you have to say that, but one of my editors actually does forget, and so I've begun a campaign to remind her, long distance. She blogged it here.

Total Relaxation: Pulse & Respiration

Half an hour of yoga, 15 minutes of seated meditation, half an hour of lying on the floor with a neck cradle and a heating pad and legs up in the total-relax-your-back posture. Then I timed my respiration and pulse rate. Breathing deeply and comfortably, it was 2 to 3 full breaths per minute, with a pulse rate of 57. If I could get there more often, ahhhhhh.

How's your deep relaxation?

Pens & Markers

This is the tray that sits on the "velvet" ottoman next to my honkin' big chair in the Voodoo Lounge.I thought you might like to see what a Marking Implement Addiction looks like. Sadly (as if I'm actually sad about it. Snort.), there're roughly twice this many in the studio, on my desk, and then another assortment in the sewing studio. These are my favorites, though (except the colored pencils--I like the Prismacolors best).

These are my current favorite markers. I love these!$19.99 at Hobby Lobby, plus I had the 40%-off coupon. 100 colors! Woo-hoo! Now, if you know me, you know that's all they had to say: One Hundred Colors. They had me right there. But I figured that, that cheap, maybe they cheated; so, of course, on the way home from New Orleans this summer, I tested them in my journal. (There really are 100 different colors--no duplicates!) That little chart proved to be so useful in picking the exact color I want that I scanned and copied it; and I paste a copy in the current journal as well as keeping one with the markers. Which are, by the way, making their home in a way cool box someone sent me.
Which brings me to: I get the coolest gifts. Y'all are fabulous! I love everything and use it--even the packing boxes, see? But perhaps you wonder why I don't photograph and post the gifts that come in the mail, yes? I did that once and left out something--forgot to include it because I'd already started using it--and felt so horrid. And I know I'd be sure to do that again--I'd love something and start using it or hang it up or whatever--and I'd forget to post it and someone would think I hadn't liked it and wouldn't mention it and I'd never realize it.
So I just don't. I should, though--the beads and paintings and fabric and glasses and mugs and t-shirts and coffee and olive oil and dolls and jewelry--and oh, my! See? I can't even list everything without obsessing! And here's the thing: everything is just perfect, as if the person picking it out had known me for years. And I couldn't figure that out until I went, oh, yeah: I tell everything about my whole entire LIFE right out loud. What's not to know?
So, thank you, thank you--and please don't think that I don't photograph the wonderful, much-loved gifts because they aren't (wonderful and much-loved). They are--each and every one. I love presents, and going to the mail box is such a treat. It's like back in the days when we did mail art--remember that?--and you never knew what fabulous thing the postman would bring. And so I am surrounded here in my studio and in the Voodoo Lounge by all the wonderful things people have made and sent me, and it feels like being surrounded by love and joy, and it's just marvelous.