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


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Yay! Blogging from the phone. And no: I'm not going to always call it The iPhone. No.

Now that I've got this set up, all should be groovy.

Things That Make Me Pee on Myself with Delight

Well, OK, maybe not literally. Although it’s just a matter of time, what with the squealing and jumping up and down. My friend Gabriel was right:  this stuff DOES make me squeal. Or, usually, go, “Oh. My. Goodness.” I can’t even cuss, I’m so fucking speechless.
I’m talking about the phone, of course. I know, I know:  there’s nothing more tedious than some new, wet-behind-the-ears iPhone user waxing rhapsodic over this piece of technology that every Geek worth her/his salt has had for—what is it now? Three years? Four? Forever?
But let me tell you, when I stood out in my backyard and said, into the phone, “Barnes and Noble,” and it took me to a page with the local address, the mileage, the phone number, etc., yeah:  I squealed.
Or when I was sitting here listening to the music on this blog (and I do listen to it all the time, because it’s music I really like (well, yeah, some of it’s country, for my husband), and I can turn it on and have it play for a couple hours, hearing all kinds of stuff—when I was sitting here listening to it and pressed Shazam, and it listened to the music, analyzed the music, then told me the name and the artist and showed me the album cover and gave me a link so I could buy it if I wanted to. Squealing. Again.
I’m easily impressed by cool technology. I am not a technology geek (and isn’t that a total surprise, really?), so it’s all completely baffling to me, which means it’s all also totally cool.
The other coolest thing (and this will prove to you what a sheltered life I do, indeed, live) is the charger docking station I got. I got the smallest one, with no clock, no nothing. I plugged it in and docked the phone and went to Pandora and was listening to the music, thinking, “Well, it still sounds pretty tinny, but I guess that’s OK.” And I was dicking around with the tiny little remote, and I realized I hadn’t actually turned on the speakers. Duh. When I did, the sound was amazing.
You want more proof? When we switched the SIM card on my phone, we asked about putting The EGE’s in my old phone, since it’s a slightly better cheap (i.e., free) phone. And Nacho says, “Yeah, plus yours has an MP3 player in it.”
I’m like, “?” I’ve had this phone for two years and didn’t have a clue.
So there you go:  easily impressed. And completely clueless.
And now I guess I’d better go start packing.

Satchmo Summerfest

I hope that the next time you hear from me I’ll be posting from New Orleans. I don’t know, as I haven’t yet tried to post to my blog from the iphone. We’ll see how that works. It’s got the camera, and this one also has the video, so I’m supposed to be able to upload either photos or video from the phone to my blog. Duh:  why else would I be messing with new technology when I haven’t even figured out the new little camera yet? This is going to be an experiment in NOT traveling with the laptop. I’ve got my basket FULL of manuals and instruction booklets (not to mention magazines I haven’t had time to read, which is really indicative of how busy it’s been here, since I just now remembered that there’s our column in Altered Couture
that I haven’t even shown The EGE (he took the step photos). Good grief). Anyway—so I’ll tackle that. The idea is (snort) that I’ll come home having mastered all of the tools and memorized (SNORT) all the manuals and be perfectly capable of doing everything with everything (HAHAHAHAHAHA).
Also that I’ll have finished all the stitching projects, lost 5 pounds, tautened my thighs and achieved nirvana through jazz.
But, seriously, I don’t expect y’all to hold your breaths or anything.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Day is It? Where Am I? Why Am I in My Pajamas?

Yiii! There is so much going on, so much to be done, so much demanding my attention that I’m in danger of ending up naked, wandering the streets, asking strangers for directions to the airport. Not that I have any need to go to the airport. And not that I’m currently naked. Or that I’d need to ask directions from anyone, ever again, if only I remembered to take my spiffy new iPhone with me as I wandered.
But goodlordalmighty! What has happened to my life? This month has been crazy. And then crazy. And know what it is?  It’s New Shit. I’m sure of it:  there’s so much New Shit in this house that it’s disrupted the balance and chi and has everything discombobulated.
The roof. The siding. The windows. The washing machine. The dryer. The new little camera. The iPhone. The docking station/charger/speakers for the iPhone.
And all the instruction manuals for everything, all in a basket, patiently waiting for me to read them, highlight them, mark them with Post-It notes.
Is it any wonder I feel just the teensiest bit crazy? Please, please:  keep your fingers crossed nothing else breaks down, OK? I don’t think I can take another piece of New Shit any time soon.
Oh. Here’s something that kind of illustrates the problem, since you don’t actually have to live in the house with me and so maybe don’t know how these things work. The camera broke, right? I mean, literally broke:  the screen shattered. It did this when the camera fell from my waistband to the ground while it was IN THE PADDED CASE.
OK. So when I get a new camera, guess what:  I have to get a better case. Right? And so I go out looking for something that’s small and light and highly padded and secure, with a neck strap so I can carry it easily and light enough so it doesn’t pull on my neck. It’s always about The Neck, of course. Sheesh. Like a spoiled princess, my neck. A whiney, kvetchy one, always whinging at me and going, “Oh, I’d better not do that. It will hurt me!  I’m too delicate for that!”
Bitch drives me nuts, you know?
Anyway. So I spend half a day driving around trying to find The Perfect Camera Case. Like that’s going to happen. Finally, after much grousing, I come home with this one:
So butt-ugly. But with potential! If you look down in the lower left-hand corner, you see some thread. Embroidery floss. I’ve ripped off the logo and picked out the colors, and I’ve cut a new neck strap from two layers of cotton and flannel, since this cheap-ass strap is about as comfortable as barbed wire. My neck is sore from the last chiropractor visit, so everything feels even crappier than it otherwise would. Whine, whine, whine.
Anyway, I have plans:  new strap in these shades of green plus orange—some fabulous batik I had in the stash (and what do I NOT have in The Stash? Hmmmmm?), plus some stitching and beading on the case itself.
See? This is how it goes. I can’t just go down and buy a well-padded black camera case and be done with it. Oh, nooooooo. I have to turn it into a major project, with stitching and beading and a new strap and, and, and. . . .
If it were the only project, that wouldn’t be an issue. But no. Not by a long shot. There’s so much to do that I can’t even think straight. It’s good—I like being busy. I especially like being busy this time of year:  yesterday it was a year since my dad died. Today would have been his 83rd birthday. Three years ago, my mother was in the hospital dying. This stretch of summer gets better, but slowly.
So the universe conspired to keep me occupied by making everything fall apart/quit working. So clever of it, no?
Add to all of that that we’ve been social lately—we had a gift certificate from a neighbor that was going to expire—we’d had it for a year—so we went out to eat Saturday night and then went over to the Hilton and sat on the balcony bar and talked to someone The EGE knew from high school. Sunday night was the lawn concert, which was fabulous. Last night we met someone for dinner—someone who joined my Creative Life yahoo group (link on the sidebar over there) and was in town and suggested we meet, so we had dinner with him and his brother, who teaches in LA.  It was great—good food, good conversation.
And then back here to try to deal with all the piles of stuff that needs to be sorted and filed and put away—there are two tables stacked with books and instruction manuals and accessories and projects. I have 4 pots of dye going, with another one to do after that.
And guess what? Tomorrow morning we leave for New Orleans. Yiiiiiiii!
So, my little chickadees, I’d better get busy. Just to give us all a little Twist of Zen, though, here’s what the non-human side of the family thinks about summertime:

Becky & Her Blythe Doll

Yeah, like she has only one. Make that “& One of Her Blythe Dolls.” Because she has many, and this is just the most recent one—so fabulous.
Becky’s the last person we would have guessed would get hooked on dolls. Except for her daughter, who is NOT a doll kind of girl (thank you, jesus, for that)—and now she’s gotten her hooked, as well.  Ah, well:  when they’re this cool, you gotta give ‘em a pass, right?
[In case, like me, you’re Blythe doll knowledge is pretty sketchy (i.e., non-existent), go here. And then check out the alterations people do on them, here. That’s where Becky had Isabella’s work done.]
And then she brought her over for a visit.
Check out the eyes—she has various eyes that you change by pulling a string in the back of her head. Ooooh, creepy! But sooooo cool.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So Today I Bought an iPhone.

I have nothing else to tell you. That’s it:  the weekend, which needed to be about so very, very many things, including sorting all the shit from my desk, and clearing out the sewing studio, and mending some stuff, and working on some projects, and learning how to use my new little camera, and, and, and—it has, instead, been about Finding a New Phone.
When I do something like this, here’s how it goes:  I do some base research, online, to find out what’s out there. Then I go various places and look at things In Real Life. Then I ask friends what their experience has been. Then I post to Facebook, Twitter, whatever (which was colossally unhelpful this time around, let me tell you). Then I compile and compare the information. Then I kind of wait and see what hits me. Then I Know.
I’ve talked to a ton of people in the last couple weeks. I’ve talked to people who adored the Blackberry and people who (overwhelmingly) love their iPhone (never mind that they think AT&T Sucks the Big Winkie. I wanted to go with CREDO, which supports all the things I believe in).
But, in the end, I fell in love with the iPhone’s browser. Never mind that Jason and Nacho were the salespeople—Nacho is the coolest geek guy ever on the planet, and Jason is no slouch, plus he lives right around the corner. So.
I have a new iPhone 3Gs. And that is ALL I can tell you about it. I bought it, we ran errands, I came home, we went to the concert at the museum, I talked to Bob and Jean, two iPhone Guys—Guys around my age who have them and love them and know a whole shitload of useful stuff. And so while we’re there, talking, with them giving me advice and stuff, one’s texting me (omigod! don’t!  I don’t have texting in my package!  Plus I Don’t Text~) and the other one’s taking iPhotos and e-mailing them to me. And I don’t even have my e-mail set up yet.
So I have a new ISP, and  new camera, and a new phone. And I’ve just signed up for Twitter. And so I’ve got all this shit I need to learn, but I’ve got a book coming out and stuff to do and deadlines and projects and WHERE IS THE TIME????
E, whizzu. I’m exhausted. I talked to half a dozen Phone Geeks today, and I talked to the woman who makes the bread we buy at the Farmers’ Market, and we listened to fabulous live jazz, and I did a video and nearly wet myself with joy at doing this from my phone. But since I haven’t had time to set up an e-mail account or upload a YouTube app, I can’t show you that. I can’t show you anything, frankly, and I have a ton of stuff to do and less than 48 hours to get it done before we leave for New Orleans.
I can show you this, since it came from Bob’s iPhone to the computer and requires nothing of me. This is me with the new phone at the concert at the museum:
Oy. That’s all I can say:  Oy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This One Will Make You Grin

I’m not a fan of weddings, and our own certainly wasn’t a big ol’ ball of laughs. Not in 107 degrees of non-air-conditioned heat.

But even I, the Wedding Hater, love this video, sent to me by Chris:

Thanks, Chris! Made my day--

Hey, Anne! You Win~~

Congratulations—send me your address, and I’ll get Hip to Stitch in the mail to you.

Voodoo’s Got a Grip on My Soul

The whole Voodoo and Zen thing isn’t just some cute little phrase I thought up for fun. It’s my explanation of our dichotomy, what people call our regular selves and our “dark side.” I think the whole Dark Side thing is just silly; it’s not like we’re all charming angels, perfect in every way, and then we have this sinister (which comes from the Latin for “left,” an insult to all us lefties) side we have to squelch.
Nah. We’re all just a bundle of stuff, some “good,” some “bad,” mostly just Stuff. But we have to have some way to talk about the various impulses and urges and to make sense of our seemingly-conflicting natures. So other people think of their baser instincts as their Dark Side; I explain mine as the voodoo of Voodoo and Zen.
Voodoo is the illogical earthy, impulse to believe in mystery and want revenge, to make up stories about why things are the way they are and to try to control life with spells and amulets, entreaties and magic.
In short, the interesting part. The gumbo.
Zen, on the other hand, is cool and logical, detached and calm, peaceful and serene.
It’s tofu without seasoning. But, oh! It’s ever-so-much better for you than sausage and chicken stock and shrimp over rice. Alas.
It’s New Orleans and Santa Fe, emotion and intellect, hot and cold. Passion and detachment.
I strive for Zen, but my heart is filled with voodoo. I realize this is true because I keep losing jewelry.
I don’t lose stuff. I hardly ever lose anything, and I surely don’t lose jewelry. I can remember the last piece of jewelry I lost, back in elementary school when I wore the moss agate ring my father had given me as a scarf ring—cinching the tails of a scarf I wore, oh-so-jauntily, around my neck. By the end of the school day, of course, the ring was gone.
In all those intervening years, I maybe have lost an earring or two—nothing fancy, just one of the 10 silver hoops I have in various sizes to go in the 10 holes in my ears. That’s understandable, right?
But here in the last month, I’ve lost two pieces of jewelry:  a bracelet and a ring. I lost the bracelet several weeks ago, before we went to Portland. It was a silver Möbius bangle, stamped with the metta prayer, you know:
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.

It looked like this:
And yesterday I lost my ring, the one I had made that was stamped with
I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing something here. It’s as if my soul is so black that the jewelry—which I wore to remind me of my quest for compassion and being present—just couldn’t stand it and leapt off my body to flee far, far away.
I really liked that bracelet and especially that ring, though, and that leads me to think that maybe it was Zen that took it away:  teaching me again about problems of attachment.
I have to admit, I’m not a Zen kind of person. Oh, I try. I do. It’s just that staying calm and staying in the moment and feeling compassion for every other living thing, even the rude skanky people shopping at midnight at The Wal-Mart—well, it’s a reach. A real reach.
I’m much more at home pulling out my box of sharp little pins, lighting a candle and burning a little bit of hair. . . .and my jewelry apparently knows this.

Earthshaking News!

You’ll always find the latest in the Midland Reporter Telegram, bless their hearts. From yesterday’s editorial:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don’t Hate Me Because I Made a Fan Page.

Remember those “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” commercials? About shampoo, weren’t they? And you just wanted to grab that smarmy ho’ by the neck and bitch slap her, didn’t you?

Yeah, OK, so maybe I had some issues.

I’ve always felt kind of the same way about people who make Fan Pages for themselves on FaceBook. And now I’ve gone and made one for myself, and I feel like I need to go take a long hot shower with Lava soap—you know, the kind that hurts like hell when you use it, like it’s full of sand. Which it is.

A Fan Page. Goodlordalmighty. First it was MySpace. Then Facebook. Then Twitter. And now this. When will it end? When will I say, “Enough” and just go back to the days when the only contact I had with the outside world was the occasional email from my beloved Women Who Say Fuck?

But wait:  I love this blog. I really do. It’s so much fun to share stuff and get reactions and then check out the stuff y’all tell me about. And Facebook doesn’t always suck. But everything else? I keep thinking, “Ok. This is supposed to be A Good Thing, but, umm, I’m not seeing the point already.” I’m not getting any strokes from any of it, and it takes a shitload of time I could easily use a million times over for other stuff, and then I keep having to remind myself that it’s Not About Me. It’s about The Book. About my agreement to market. And my belief that it’s a really good book that I want people to know about when it comes out.

I can’t start the next book until after this one comes out and they see How It Does in those first vital weeks. Well, yikes.  I have these projects I reallyreallyreally want to do, and they’re all contingent on the performance of something that is, in some ways, completely out of my hands. I mean, it’s not like I have an advertising budget or an agent or a staff or, well, anything. And it’s not like anyone else is going to fork out The Big Bucks for any multi-state promotional Big-Time Author Book Tour. Hell, the “Book Tour” will be me on the phone trying to convince people to let me come and set up some folding chairs in their garage, pretty much.

I am not JK Rowling. Let’s just get that straight right off, in case you were somehow confused. I am also not Joel Osteen. Shit, I’m not even Charlie Epps, and he’s fictional (in Numb3rs, he writes a self-help book that shoots to the top 100 on the day it comes out, and I’m thinking, “OK. I hate him.”  I’m envious of the marketing talent of a fictional TV character, and I really think that must be indicative of the level of stress I’ve been under with this DAMN ROOF.

Is what I’m thinking. You know? Not to mention Twitter and the damn Fan Page. You want a confession? I made the page and then had to spend a half hour finding it again. I was that fried, and it was that pathetic. It was like walking through a forest and finally carving out a decent spot for a picnic, chopping down a dead tree and setting up some shade and stomping down a nice little circle of grass. And then, all exhausted, you go back to get the picnic basket and find you didn’t leave yourself any clues for finding your way back to the newly-arranged clearing.

Fortunately, someone took my hand and led me back through the woods, but I’m thinking next time I’m going to send up flares to remind myself where I am.

And now the metaphor has broken down, and I’m going to bed. At least I am if I can find my way there on my own.

Just don’t hold the fan page against me, OK?

Whoa. Lennie Lulu & I Had Better Get Busy.

This is astounding. I’ve watched it half a dozen times and just love it. Partly it’s because this cat is so happy and pleased with herself. Sheesh:  I would be, too, if I were her.

Yeah, yeah, I know—I’ve got a ton of other things I should be doing. But this is almost as soothing to me as computer solitaire.

Isn’t this terrific?

I Should Be Working. & So Should You. But, Hey.

This one made me laugh out loud. You?

Rain, Rain, O, Glorious &^%$#@ Rain.

The People of West Texas love rain. They become nearly orgasmic over just a little shower, the kind of thing most of y’all wouldn’t even notice—you wouldn’t even have to open your umbrellas for it. But here? Any moisture falling from the sky that didn’t come from the butt of a bird = a Wonderful Thing. A Miracle. A Blessing from God. (Yeah, we actually have billboards—big ones—explaining that if we mend our evil ways, god will send us rain to heal our land. Seriously. I should take photographs for y’all).
And we do need rain.  We do. And every time I grouse about it, I remember Barbara Kingsolver saying in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral—which I didn’t finish, slacker that I am—that it’s amazingly short-sighted and selfish to not want rain for any personal reason when the earth needs it so badly, as if our individual petty desires should carry any weight by comparison. And, oh! do we ever need it. We ALWAYS need it.
I hate rain. I dread it, and I loathe it. We’re getting that steady, slow, soaking kind of rain that’s the very best for the lawns and gardens and every little plant and animal that’s out there rejoicing. It may even heal the long yellow patches in The EGE’s lawn where the long metal panels for the roof burned the grass. It’s cool, and it’s refreshing, and I’m just sitting here bitching like a motherfucker.
Know why? Wish I had the energy to get up and find the digital recorder and figure out how to embed some audio here so you could hear THE DRIP DRIP DRIP of the WATER GOING INTO THE BUCKET under the LEAK IN MY ROOF.
Yes: Leak. In. My. Roof.
That would be The New Roof.
Two leaks, actually, although one has not, so far, begun to drip. It’s just making two long wet spots on the ceiling.
For all of my married life, I have had leaks. When we lived in The Mobile Home, the roof leaked. When we bought this house, the studio flooded when it rained—the backyard slopes toward the house, and this little addition is on a slab, rather than pier and beam. The EGE installed a sump pump outside, and when it rained and I was working, I’d sit here and listen for the pump to kick on. If it didn’t, that meant that we’d have to go out and bail. Just lovely. I have done some bailing all right:  with buckets, in the rain, standing in water up to my knees.
Then Bill and David built the Flood Abatement Patio for me, complete with slope and two drains, and that has worked marvelously.
But The Cat Palace leaks like a sieve:  it comes through the fence and runs down to the floor. It gets in their food and in their litter boxes, and The EGE has to go out and mop everything up.
And now this.
So whenever it rains and all my fellow Midlanders are dancing in the streets (figuratively; they’re not the sort of people who are in the habit of actually taking to the streets for much of anything except an appearance by George W. or the annual Mex-Tex Festival) with joy, I’m wandering through the house, watchful, checking (of course), wondering what’s going to leak next. And grumbling mightily.
Fucking rain.
I’m sitting here, trying to get ready to work, with a steady drip, drip, drip not four feet from my chair. I guess I should be thrilled the leak wasn’t over the computer. Guess that would have given me something REALLY  irritating to bitch about, huh?
But I grin to myself. I know they’ll fix the roof, and in timely fashion. How do I know this? Because when I wrote the Big Ass check the other day to pay for all this, I very cleverly held back $3000 for just such an eventuality. Oh, sure:  I’m still waiting on the depreciation from the insurance company. So technically I wasn’t supposed to pay the whole thing yet. But I could have. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I was thinking, Hmmmmm. Maybe not. Let’s wait. They haven’t installed the clear glass in the windows,  and we hadn’t had a really good rain. Let’s do it this way and just give things a little time.
Well, my little chickadees, I see it’s now after 8 am. Time to make a phone call. . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Music I Hate a Lot

I’m picky about music. And what a fucking surprise that is, right? Yeah, I know. I hate heavy metal and rap and hip-hop and easy listening and almost anything with vocals. I don’t like strings, usually. Or brass, for the most part. I’m not a big fan of rock, never mind that I grew up during the ‘60’s. I didn’t know what was wrong with me until I went off to college and discovered The Ohio Players. Yowza.
I’m not one of those people who likes to have music going constantly. Even music I love, I don’t need to hear all the time. Sure, I have Sirius radio for the porch and in Merlin, and I have Pandora on the computers. But I don’t listen to it all the time. There is a lot to be said for silence. Complete silence. Except for birds and purring cats and the regular passing of trains just four blocks from our house. I love those.
But constant music? Eh. I hadn’t thought about this in a while [since I interviewed artists about it for The Book = Teaser!], but today I had to. Today I spent an hour in the chiropractor’s office. I had stitching. I wasn’t cold. It didn’t smell bad. I didn’t need to pee. Ergo, I should have been perfectly content, right?
Almost. There was, however, a fly in the ointment. A big, noisy, hairy horse fly:
Muzak. Actually, I think it’s internet radio—I think it’s Sirius, actually—I asked one time, trying to figure out what this guy had programmed into his office system. Because, hello!  He’s only 40! He’s younger than I am = way, way too damn young to be listening to this crap. I’m guessing all of his patients are a bunch of old farts who like this stuff. That scares me to death.
I hadn’t ever really realized how truly terrible it was until today, when I had to spend so long listening to it. When he came in the room, he apologized sincerely for my having to wait so long, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “Sweetie, it wasn’t the wait; it was your fucking music.”
Only I didn’t. “Fucking” would probably cause him to short-circuit. (I believe he may be a cyborg.)
I heard, this afternoon, “Secondhand Rose,” and “I Write the Song,” among many other atrocities, all done in the most truly hideous way possible. Either one of these songs, no matter how tastefully they were performed, would be enough to make me want to stab myself in the ears with a knitting needle—and I don’t even knit! They’re that bad!—but the arrangements I heard today? Oh, honeys!  It’s a fucking miracle I’m still alive.
Imagine “I Write the Song,” (and be reallyreallyreally glad you can’t hear it in your head. Oh? You wish you could? Then go here, sweetie, bless your heart). Now imagine it as Muzak, and then, just for further inspiration, imagine it accompanied a full Muzak orchestra with lots of damn strings and with dancers:  it’s a troupe of dancers from, oh, maybe 1970, where all the young men and women are dressed exactly the same and, in fact, look pretty much interchangeable in their contrived sexlessness, all perky and upbeat in red shirts and bright red pants and white dancing shoes, and they all have hair that never, ever moves from its perfectness, and they all have smiles that are so blindingly white and even and brilliant that you can’t look directly at them, lest you be blinded. And they’re all leaping and pirouetting in a most spritely fashion, singing gleefully about being the music and writing the songs.
And you just want to grab them and rip out their throats with your teeth so they will shut the hell up.
It was like that. For an entire hour.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Matthew Andrae

We spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening in Santa Fe listening to him singing and playing at the Inn and Spa at Loretto.

Here he sings a song he wrote for his daughter, Celine. (He explains that “James” is his middle name.) I think you’ll like it.

Here’s another one:

Wish I could find him singing “Blackbird”--I really like his jazzier songs even better.

Go here to hear more.

Finally: Some Photos from The Great Road Trip to Portland

My New Little Camera arrived yesterday, but I haven’t had time to sit down and read the manual (and y’all KNOW I always read the manual before I use anything. Of course I do) and so haven’t actually used it yet.
I’m trying to get things cleared away. I still have hope that, when we return from New Orleans, we’ll have time before school starts for The EGE to help me strip this room bare, strip the ceiling and paint it and paint the walls and rip up the carpet and stain the cement floor. That’s the dream. Whether it’s going to happen or not is really iffy. But I still feel a huge need to weed out and sort yet some more—I’m feeling overwhelmed lately:  we’ve been home a little over two weeks, and it seems that all I’ve done is deal with contractors and phone people and internet people and insurance people. This morning I’m out here working (because there is actually plenty of that going on, as well), and I keep hearing a noise, like my neighbors are drilling metal. I finally get up and go out to check, and it’s the Gutter Guy, installing the rain gutters for the new roof. Turns out I should have been out there MUCH earlier, as he’s installed one with the downspout draining into our neighbors’ yard. Technically, it’s probably our yard, but they think it’s their yard, and that’s fine with us. So I have to call the company so he can send the guy back to fix it later, after an argument with my husband, who keeps saying, after each Little Incident, that he can fix it. And I lose my mind and yell that he shouldn’t HAVE to fix it because I’m writing CHECKS to have this shit done, and it should be done the right way in the first place, and, if it’s not, then they must come back and rectify it. I don’t care what my husband CAN fix, it’s what he SHOULD fix, and that would be:  nothing. There shouldn’t be any damn thing left for him to have to fix. If he’s out there in the yard dicking around, it should be because he WANTS to be out there in the yard dicking around, not because he’s having to go along behind contractors and sub-contractors and fix the little things they’ve left undone.
But that’s exactly what he’s been doing, and, as a consequence, I’ve been doing a LOT of yelling.
Here’s my life these last couple of weeks:  I’m sitting out here on the phone to the insurance claims office in Jacksonville, Florida, talking to a nice young woman who is telling me that I should have sent in the estimate before I had the metal roof done. I’m explaining to her that I called and talked to Sam before I had it done, and this was all he needed, since the adjustor was here on the day we agreed on the price for the metal roof.
The EGE comes in the room to tell me the Gutter Guy is back and needs me to come out and tell him what to do. I can’t get off the phone; we’re right in the middle of figuring out what I need to fax to them to get them to release the depreciation. I’m trying to get off the phone with her, and she’s being thorough, since I seem just the teensiest bit wired about her having said I didn’t Do It The Right Way, when I did it just exactly like they told me when I called to ask them what I needed to do before signing the contract for the metal roof.
It’s been like that a LOT around here. I start work on an article I’ve been looking forward to for months, and I find I can’t get anything done because I can’t stay over there in Writing Brain; I’m constantly having to come back over to Organizational Brain and deal with people, phone calls, paperwork.
Oh. Wait. I said this was about photographs, didn’t I? Geez. I’m sorry. Here you go:
This is of some mountains in Oregon. One of you Oregonians please tell us which ones they are. Pretty, though, huh? I like snow OK when it’s that far away.
Note:  my husband likes landscapes and flowers and stuff. I like pictures that have either animals or people in them. Or art. Or things I want to make into art. Not so much with mountains and stuff, even though he does a great job with them. So I don’t actually pay attention to the landscape when he’s taking the pictures. If it turns out these are actually come he took in some other state, please let me know.
I got him to take this of the side of a winery because it reminds me of the drawings of Theo Ellsworth.
And then in San Francisco:
Me studying a map. I have no idea where I was, and that’s probably how I was feeling at the time, as well.
Me rushing up the stairs—he says he’s always getting the back of me as I rush ahead somewhere. There’s a lesson in there for me, but damn if I understand it.
A car I love.
Flax, the store where I want to go when I die.
Cool building.
More of me hurrying away:
This is the San Francisco I remember from when I was a kid.
Imagine our delight when, after a day of walking all over and several days before that of finishing up the bounty from our last visit to Trader Joe’s in Portland, we crest a hill in downtown San Francisco and see this:
Yay! We love Whole Foods. And we promptly went in and put together a fabulous salad to take back on the BART to our room.
But first!  To The Top of the Mark for a drink.
This is where I called Wendy, who was at her cabin in New York, and we talked about how the world has changed since we knew San Francisco as kids.
Then, on our way back to the train, we saw these two women. The EGE was trying to be cool and not be obvious about taking their photo. What we didn’t know is that they are, of course, the amazingly-famous Twins of San Francisco and would have been delighted to pose. Too bad for The EGE, who would have loved meeting them. And they, him, I’m willing to bet.
And there you go:  a short day trip through the Lovely San Francisco. Minus the Barfing Woman, who will haunt me forever, and the Men Who Talk to Their Shoes. You will love me for editing it for you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Melissa Zink, 1932 - 2009

Melissa Zink died Friday in Taos, where she lived and worked with her husband, Nelson. A couple of years ago, The EGE and I were invited to visit her there in her studio—a rarity, indeed, since she didn’t like to meet strangers and kept her studio private. It was a wonderful afternoon with talk and laughter and Melissa’s delicious chai tea.
big zink
Go here and read about her and her work and her legacy—they say it much better than I could.
Melissa was in my book, Living the Creative Life, and we discussed working together on a book about her ideas about language and art and books and imagination. She decided, finally, that although she had ideas about this she wanted to share, she wasn’t ready to pin it down to words and chapters and explanations. Her imagination wasn’t ready to be captured and distilled, even in her 70’s. I loved that.
And there was already a wonderful book about her: Hollis Walker: Zink: The Language of Enchantment.
I wrote about this book when it came out and Melissa sent me one of the limited edition copies. Here’s the official description of it.
The Limited Edition of Zink: Language of Enchantment is a specially bound 96-page book measuring 8.5 x 10.5 inches. Each of the books, in an edition of 250, is numbered and signed by the artist. Within a small doored compartment of the slipcase is a 4-inch-tall bronze sculpture that combines two things that Zink loves most - a figure and words. Entitled WordLife, the art piece was created specifically for this Limited Edition.
I love Wordlife for many reasons. Although I suppose it’s meant to stay in its little niche, I keep it out on the bookshelf where I can see it.
Time to take the book out on the porch and think about an amazingly creative life so very well lived.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More on Why Journalism Isn’t Journalism

Mo [no blog or website; just fabulousness] sent me this excellent piece on Walter Cronkite and the state of “journalism” by Glenn Greenwald. I love it. I’ve always kind of suspected my outrage at what The News has become is one of those obsessions you share with just a handful of other geeks scattered around the planet. Maybe not, though. Maybe there are many of us who hate it but just accept that there’s nothing to be done.
[When I think about this, the thing that always comes to mind is how, for so long, we never saw any of the coffins of service people as they were brought back to the US. The government didn’t want us to see them, so we didn’t see them. I always thought about what it would be like to be the photographer determined to get photos of those coffins at some point along the way, about making that your Purpose and about doing everything you could to photograph every single one without getting thrown in jail. Using high-tech stuff, disguises, assistants. Making it your one, single, driving goal to show the American public, in as graphic a way as you could manage, what was really going on.]
Why does the state of the news piss me off so much? I don’t have a degree in journalism, and I’ve never worked as a reporter. But I was on the newspaper staff in high school a zillion years ago, and I won some awards and crap—stuff that means nothing--EXCEPT:  it means we were trained by people who cared about journalism and about the way the news was reported back in a time when it wasn’t a glamour job. The news anchors were all men, and there was no cutesiness or silliness. No cleavage. No hope that this job would lead to superstardom and movie contracts. We didn’t see reporters as celebrities but as workers—people who were doing the hard work and asking the hard questions and pissing people off by digging and coming back again and again until they got Answers. We learned stuff. I believed I was going to be a reporter, and I cared about this stuff. 
I remember one story we did during my oh-so-brief stint as editor—amazing! I have a memory!—about selling alcohol to 18 year olds. It was legal then—had just become legal, I think—and we were checking with local stores to find out which ones really checked ages and which ones would sell to pretty much anyone who looked like they were in high school. It pissed people off, but it was fun:  it was great fun, in fact, digging and trying to find out things people didn’t want you to know.
And that was how we saw it, back then:  finding out stuff people didn’t want you to know and passing that information on to the people who needed to know it. Greenwald is exactly right about that:  it doesn’t happen any more. Reporters now are just the mouthpieces of the people in power—the government and the corporations that prop it up.
I’m not a journalist. I don’t dig for information that people don’t want me to know. I don’t play Gotcha with the people I interview. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for any other job, but sometimes I can still imagine myself as a journalist:  a cross between Cronkite and Bob Woodward and Harriet the Spy. It still seems like it would be a lot of fun.
Of course, I’m way too old and not nearly cute enough. Plus that whole cleavage thang. Too bad for me. Too bad for Harriet. Too bad for the news.

Walter Cronkite: The Most Trusted Man in America

First of all, I have to admit that I didn’t even know he was still alive. I’ve often thought about him, on those few, rare occasions when I’ve watched the news on tv, but I don’t keep track of things well enough to know who’s dead and who’s still alive.
Can you imagine thinking of any “news” person today as The Most Trusted Person in America? Any of the talking heads, the emoting, opining, joking, editorializing News Celebrities?
What happened to reporting the news? What happened to the idea that the job of the reporter was to report:  to present the facts as clearly and concisely as possible without in any way distorting them or adding to them? Huh.
It’s another reason I don’t watch the news. You see or hear something you think is important (if you can wade through all the sensational crap about celebrities and kinky murders and political sex scandals), and you want to know if it’s actually true. Because, of course, you can’t tell.  And so you try to double-check it, to verify it. But you have to find a source that’s not owned by the same company that owns the one where you just heard the information in the first place—since you do want an independent corroboration.
It’s exhausting.
Who knows if the news we got back then was true? Who knows how it was altered before we heard it? But we never wondered, because we hadn’t yet had Watergate and the lies about Viet Nam. And we had Walter Cronkite.
I've missed Cronkite for years already. Sometimes when I’d listen to some news anchor joking around about some story, I would, instead, hear his voice, calm and measured and never silly and be taken back to all the endless evenings of my childhood, playing quietly while my parents watched the news, trusting that what they heard was what they needed to know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I ♥ Ed Haddaway

Spent the evening at an opening of work by Ed Haddaway. So cool, so funky. You’ve been to openings where the artist is all stick-up-the-butt about his stuff, all philosophical about the inspiration and construction, blah, blah, blah. Haddaway was nothing like that. He was, in short, a total hoot. Of course:  he was born in Fort Worth.

The cool thing is that we’ve been checking out his stuff all week long. This


has been sitting in the parking lot of the museum, with pieces slowly being added to it day by day. Every morning we go by and check it out, trying to decide what we think it is. Some say a snail; some, a slug. Others, a whale. Whatever it might be to Haddaway, it’s happiness to us—we’ve enjoyed it all week long and, we think, on through the rest of the summer.

You can see his work in permanent collections from Dallas to Santa Fe and Albuquerque to Bellingham, Washington. Check his website for info. And if you ever get a chance to hear him give a talk, be there. He’s that good.


Something Else That Drives Me Nuts: Opposition to Planned Parenthood

As you know, sometimes lately, Post-W, I slip and read a part of the newspaper, forgetting why I should SO not do that. The other day I read this in the lovely Midland Reporter Telegram, aka The Repository of Bad Grammar & Faulty Punctuation, and I nearly lost my mind. There are few things that make me nuts as quickly as a complete lapse in logic. People who let their emotions guide them set me off in the most spectacular way.
(Do not rant at me about Planned Parenthood and abortion. If you already know you don’t agree with my views, then stop reading right now. You aren’t getting paid to be here. Go fix a nice cup of tea and come back tomorrow, when we’re sure to be talking about something else.)
This is what one of the protesters said about why Planned Parenthood shouldn’t offer sex education classes:
Bustillos said Planned Parenthood  “promotes death” so others who promote life should offer education to youngsters.
“We do need to talk to each other and help each other,” Bustillos said. “I think we could do better, but ultimately it has to come from the families, from the moms and the dads and the grandparents and the family itself. Even if it’s some church group. Someone that teaches life, not death.”

(Note:  this is a woman who became pregnant at age 15. Fine that she didn’t have an abortion—that was her choice. But just think if she’d known how to postpone getting pregnant until she’d finished her education and was no longer a child. Imagine.)
Just a note before I start the main rant:  Bustillos apparently has absolutely no idea what Planned Parenthood is about. She says it “promotes death,” and that is, without a doubt, the stupidest thing I have heard anyone say in, oh, months. Since January 19th, at least. Planned Parenthood promotes family planning. It’s where I got birth control when I needed it, and it’s where they hooked me up with Dr. Mendez, the only doctor in town who would do a tubal ligation on me, someone who had never been pregnant. They did not, need I add, say to me, “Never mind the birth control. Why don’t you get pregnant so we can provide an abortion and get some money out of you?” They did not charge me a penny for either birth control OR a referral. And it was not because I was poor and couldn’t pay them; it was because that was what they did. If you think Planned Parenthood and its doctors are getting rich by providing abortions to the people who are forced to go to Planned Parenthood with unwanted pregnancies, you’re sorely misguided in the way the world works. The women who have money and resources do not go to PP. They go to their own private doctors, where unwanted pregnancies are Taken Care Of quickly and quietly, and the word “abortion” is never even used. A diagnostic D&C is a rich woman’s best friend. So the women who are forced to go to The Hated Planned Parenthood are not paying the Big Bucks for abortions. No one’s getting rich off them.  “The Business of Death” is one of those illogical but catchy little phrases the anti-choice people feed their followers.
What’s the best way to end abortion? End unwanted pregnancies. If you said, “Make it illegal,” then come over here and let me introduce you to what we in The Real World call Illegal Drugs. Marijuana. Crack. Heroin. Or maybe blow jobs for cash. Sure, sure:  I know that, in your imaginary world, these things don’t exist, because THEY ARE ILLEGAL. On Planet Earth, however, that’s not the way it works. Just making something illegal—crack, prostitution, cock-fighting, gambling—doesn’t work nearly as well as you people on Planet Denial believe it does.
So if you want to make something go away, you don’t make it illegal. You have to get rid of the perceived need for it. And how do you get rid of the perceived need for abortion? Help people not get pregnant unless they plan to get pregnant.
If you said, “Make sure they don’t get pregnant until they’re married,” then you’re still not paying attention. You’re not taking into account the married women who get abortions. It happens all the time (you don’t hear as much about it because, duh:  they have more resources (theirs + those of their spouse) and more often have a private doctor).
So:  to end abortion, you end unwanted pregnancy. And how do you do that?
--safe, effective, affordable, easy-to-use birth control AND
Therefore:  wouldn’t it seem logical that people who are opposed to abortion (and that would be all of us, as no one is a fan of abortion, at least no one I know, and I know a lot of people who are staunch supporters of a woman’s right to choose) would be in favor of education? Wouldn’t it?
Well, in my world it would. Maybe I’m living here all alone, but that’s OK. It just makes me nuts that people like this are trying to influence other people’s lives. It’s bad enough when someone sane and logical is out there trying to foist their opinions on the rest of us. But this? This is so short-sighted and self-serving and completely, totally without logic that—and this is the truth--I was getting ready to take a shower and started thinking about it and got so irritated that I had to come in here and write about it before I exploded. The EGE has already heard this rant this week, and I figure once for it is about as much as anyone can be expected to tolerate.
What’s my conclusion? Logic is a lovely thing. More people should come to know it. Education is also lovely, and none of us should ever stop embracing it. And some people just need to go back to the beginning and start over. Pay attention in school. Learn to think logically. Realize the imaginary world they’d like to live in is not the one they actually inhabit.
Or just shut up.

Hooray, Hooray: The New Roof. Etc.

Yay!  It’s done!
Well, except for getting a rain gutter across the front and on the side of the carport, and writing the gigantinormous check for all the  work, which will not be done until they bring the new glass for the windows. . . .
But other than that, it’s done. Here’s what our poor little house looked like before they took off the siding—this is the front porch (they’ve taken off the shutters and house numbers and mailbox and stuff):
And after they stripped off the siding—this is the back wall outside the studio:
And here’s the same wall, finished:
And the front porch, all shiny and new:
I know:  it’s kind of boring, isn’t it? But hey:  it’s siding. How exciting can it be?
Now here’s the roof, pre-metal:
And here it is AFTER they went back and removed the shingles AND put on new felt (yeah, I had to be pushy about the felt, too):IMG_1741
And here’s my new roof. It’s pretty impossible to get a good photo of a roof, you know? But The EGE climbed up on the ladder and got these, just for y’all:
We’ll try to get some better ones, with the shiny-ness and all, but I’m not sure how:  we walked all around the block this morning, trying to find an angle where the trees didn’t block the view, to no avail. Maybe we’ll figure out what time the sun hits it just right so we can get a blindingly-bright shot.

Wine Bottle Installation in Portland

Nope. Didn’t drink all this myself. We did provide all the cheapo-but-good Oak Leaf, schlepped from home, as well as an assortment of Severely Cheap (under $5 a bottle) white wine from Trader Joe’s. Everyone chipped in with cool stuff no one had ever tried. Never mind the cold and damp and grey of the Pacific Northwest; anywhere you can get good wine for less than $5 has a LOT going for it.
So as I was keeping people’s wineglasses (snort.  read:  paper coffee cups, plastic cups, glasses borrowed from the cafeteria—whatever they could find) filled, I entertained myself by arranging the empty bottles in a anal-retentive but very curvy way.

Some Stuff I Finally Finished—Yay!

I stitched all along the 4141.5 miles of the road trip. I planned to do this and so took three new projects, all stretched and ready to go. I didn’t finish even one of them. Fortunately for me, though, I DID finish it when I got home. It’s a replacement to the flannel No Evil Voodoo that I gave away before I left:
This version in on cotton, with a flannel voodoo doll. I think it will be the last flannel one—I’m going to try felt now.
The letters are wool blend felt that I washed and then steam pressed.
Creepy eyes that I love.
The stamped images—the voodoo dolls in the corners and the skull in the top hat and the hearts—all of those are from stamps I carved years ago.
Then last Sunday I decided (actually decided in my sleep on Saturday night) that I needed a new apron for walking. I carry the cat treats in the pocket. The other aprons are all a little longer, and the longer they are, the more unwieldy they are to walk in. So I made this one.
It was a pain in the butt, as something happened with the bobbin thread when I was sewing the gathering stitch for the damn ruffle (and somebody please, please tell me:  what in the hell am I doing with a RUFFLE? Good lord. But aprons (which, really, are bad enough) seem to demand ruffles. Next thing you know, I”ll be vacuuming the floor in heels and pearls with a fucking bow in my hair. And I don’t even vacuum!) Then the thread broke, and you know—if you’ve ever been goofy enough to actually make a ruffle—that few things are worse, in the Ruffle-Making World, than having one of the bobbin threads break. Next time, I’m going to have to re-think this whole Ruffle Thang, you know?
Tall pocket for pen and paper, big pocket for cat food, smaller pocket for kleenex and stuff I pick up along the way.
Next post I’ll show some more of The EGE’s photos (nope:  still no New Little Camera for me yet), these of the Great Road Trip.