Monday, September 1, 2014

Footprint

Art Journal Collage, August 2014
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris

It has become a near-obsession for me, getting rid of things I no longer need or want, or will never use, or never liked to begin with, or feel bad about having spent money on.

The quote from William Morris above has been a guiding principle for me since I established my first household in the early 1970s.  Being a lifelong devotee of the Arts & Crafts Movement, that idea has always been operating in the background for me, in terms of how I arrange/organize my spaces and everything I lay my eyes on.  I hate having junk around that is useless and ugly.  Uselessness and ugliness are highly offensive to my senses of artfulness and design.

I've had my aquisitive periods like the rest of us.  But...how many bread books does one single person really need, especially if she always baked superb loaves with guidance from the very first book?  Or, how many pair of Teva river sandals does one person need when a) she never river walks; b) only one pair can be worn at a time; and c) they almost never wear out?

Even these days I find myself buying more than I need ~~ but at least now my purchases are dollar store items, or thrift shop t-shirts to sleep in, or momentarily-gotta-have old books.  Sometimes it feels like I've just got to spend a couple bucks on something, whether I need it or not.  I suspect this feeling is the residue of modern acculturation.

Anyway...something inside me keeps driving me to get rid of more stuff.  Maybe this goes back to a fantasy I had in the 1970s about being able to put everything I owned in a VW bug and drive off into the sunset.  I just don't like the idea of having too much stuff.  It feels pretentious.

There's also this idea of my personal footprint on the planet.  I seem to want mine to be shrinking.  Deleting all those other blogs I had, and my website, and my Facebook page (but not my profile) over the last couple years, as well as having no real interest in marketing any finished art I make, all go to this concept.  I don't like the idea of being all over the place on the internet or elsewhere.

I don't want to leave a swath of unnecessary detritus when I go.  Not that I have any plans to for many years.  But still, I don't want to possess a lot of nonessential stuff ~~ right now, and going forward.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

That Sense of Closure

Sketchbook Collage, 2012
How do you know when you're really and truly finished with something, ready to let it go and ready to let go of as many of the remaining bits as possible?

I've been thinking about this for quite a while now, with respect to some of the creative things I used to do ~ spinning, weaving, dyeing, deconstructed screen printing, batik, discharge ~ and wondering when it would be time to really let go of these things, as fully as possible.

Spinning and weaving are kind of no-brainers in this regard, because I sold my equipment and all supplies four years ago.  I sometimes still miss spinning, but it's simply never to be again.  My wrists simply burned out and the last time I tried to spin, just before selling my wheel, in just five minutes my wrists were howling.

I finally made the decision this week to let go of my fiber reactive dyes and supplies, as well as most of my silk screens.  I'm giving it all to a young woman in Eureka who dyes and sells clothes for a living.  As often as I've thought I might want to dye again, the truth is, there's simply no reason for me to do it.  I've still got a 15 inch high stack of surface designed fabrics that I haven't used and might possibly end up selling.  In truth, I was never as good a fabric dyer anyway, as I was a dyer of spinning fibers.  To some extent this was the difference between using fiber reactive dyes for cloth compared with acid dyes for spinning fibers.  There was a much steeper learning curve with fiber reactive dyes, and as much fabric as I did dye, it was rare that I created something I really loved.

When I actually imagine the process of dyeing ~ and consider the fact of having to reestablish a learning curve, and the fact that I can't physically stand at the sink for long periods of time rinsing out fabric, and the fact that dyeing/rinsing uses an enormous amount of water ~ then pretty immediately I realize it's just not going to happen for me again.

Similarly with deconstructed screen printing, which was perhaps my favorite surface design technique, and batik and discharge ~ there's too much involved, too much cleanup, too much time at the sink, no room to lay things on the floor to process overnight or wait to be ironed out.  Much as I enjoyed these, I'm done with them.

Yesterday I began sorting through and condensing several big notebooks of dyeing swatches and information, as well as articles I've had for years (in some cases 35 years) on projects and techniques I will never get to.  Most of this amounted to throwing everything out that can't be recycled to print on the back of.  I've also let go of even more books in my collection, not all art/craft related, that I truly never will read again.  Most of these books had consistently made the cut for years, but now they've been cut as well.

I went through my collection of glass seed and accent beads yesterday ~ not the first time I've culled, actually the 3rd or 4th time ~ and am in the process of listing small collections of color-related beads at Etsy.  Believe it or not, I still have way more beads than I'll ever use.

It seems that as much stuff as I can let go of, there's always more to get rid of.  So to answer the question I began this post with, I don't know whether there's really such a thing as final closure.  I think, as grieving is, closure is likely a lifetime process of letting go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comments and Replies

Again, I thank you all for your comments on my posts.  I love getting comments, and I reply often, especially if the commenter is either new to reading my blog or new to commenting.  In fact, I make it a point to welcome newbies aboard ~~ when I'm able to.

But I've been frustrated for quite a while by the fact that many of your comments come to me from

name noreply-comment@blogger.com

instead of from your real email.  For a long time I thought this had something to do with the way I had my comment settings arranged.  But what I do, as the blog owner, has nothing to do with the matter.

Some blog owners reply to comments right on their blogs.  But I don't like doing this...primarily because it forces the commenter to have to go back to that post to read the reply.  A few people whose blogs I follow do this, so I will go back to the older post to read what they've said in response to my comment.  But I'd rather not have to.  As a blog owner, I'd much rather get your comment in my email inbox and reply to you directly by email.

If you want replies to your comments on my blog or any other Blogger/Blogspot blog you read, then you have to change your settings on your blogger account.  Even if you don't have your own blog, but you reply to blogs, you have a blogger account.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, here is a link to someone else's blog with a tutorial on how to change the settings on your blogger account so that your email address shows.  If you've been wondering why you never get replies to your comments from anyone's blog, this is why.  You have to change your settings so that your email address shows up when your comment arrives in the blogger's email inbox.

Also, if you're on Google+, the same problem applies.  I get your comments but cannot reply to you directly because your email address is hidden by Google+.  You'll have to go to the settings on your profile, and click the box that will allow your email address to be seen by people you send comments to.  You may actually have to let Google+ know to use your Blogger profile, something you would do through your Google+ settings.  I'm not clear on this ~~ I don't/won't use Google+ (even though I automatically have a profile there because I use Blogger).

These are folks I've had comments from just in the last few weeks, that I haven't been able to respond to, other than by writing a new blog post.

tronaldte
Christine Adams
Rose Legge
apaperbear
Jan Ward
Nina Fenner
Bridgette Mills
Diana Angus
Trece

Some of you on the list I know from elsewhere, like Facebook, or because I read your blog.  But still, in order to respond to your comments on my blog, I would have to go to your blog and leave a comment, or send you a message on Facebook.  It shouldn't be this hard to reply.

There's another large group of readers whose email does not show up with comments.  These are people I know personally, or have been in touch with for many years online, so I have already your email addresses.  If I want to reply to your blog comments, rather than just hit reply, write a message and send, I have to manually type in your email address from my address book.  Some or all of you also might want to change the settings on your blogger/Google+ profiles.  Here's a list of those folks:

Leslie
Jan
Bonnie
Marybeth
Michelle Remy
Ellen
Corrine
John
Susan Christensen
Alice
Jacki Long

...and that's just going back to the beginning of August.  Like I said, I can still reply to folks in the list just above, BUT...if any of you guys wonder why you might not ever get replies from other people whose blogs you comment on, now you know.

Now that I've explained what you have to do to get replies to your comments, let me say that this issue is only a problem with Blogger/Blogspot blogs.  Wordpress and Typepad blogs require that you leave your email address at the bottom of every comment you make.  So the blog owner automatically gets your email address.  Blogger, which is an arm of Google, doesn't do this.  On the one hand, it's an apparent hassle to have to set your profile so that your email shows (and it's only going to show to the blog owner when your comment hits their email inbox; it won't show in the comment box for anybody else to see).

On the other hand, Blogger and Google have user privacy built into their platforms, which is a nice thing in this day and age.  At least Blogger isn't Facebook, which automatically invades your privacy until you opt out.  In the case of Blogger/Google, you have to opt in for your email address to be seen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Elucidation

I truly appreciate your recent comments, especially those suggesting a slanted drafting table as a possible solution to my back/neck problems.  Since several of you chimed in with that, I thought I'd devote this post to making clear for you the physical limitations of where I live and work, i.e. Rose Cottage.  It's really hard to appreciate just how small "small living/working space" is until you know the particulars.

My entire inside life takes place in 294 square feet of space, plus a small closet and bathroom.  In the photo to the left, you can see the mirrors on the closet doors on the left beyond the ironing board.  Just to the right of the closet is an alcove with my bathroom.  I have a nice tile shower, but no tub.

This room houses the larger of my two studio tables (both of which are elevated several inches beyond normal table height).  I can't simply replace this table with a slanted drafting table, because then I would lose all that storage space, those crate and plank shelves sitting atop the worktable.  I also have storage tubs underneath.  Drafting tables are great for folks who do the same thing all the time, like drafting or drawing or even writing.  You simply can't do mixed media work on a slanted table -- it's not about doing the same thing consistently and all those different techniques require a horizontal surface.  Plus the fact that anything put on a slanted table would simply roll off.  And then there's the issue of my wrists, which are one of my many compromised body parts.  Wrists consistently bent at an awkward angle, like working at a drafting table, would only add insult to injury.  As it is, I already wear wrist braces at night, and have for over six years.

A few months ago, when I was painting and thought that was what I'd do forever (hah!), I bought a table easel from Dick Blick.  I really like it, but I actually only used it for about 15 minutes.  I had to keep moving the easel out of the way to get to my paints, and the easel kept hitting my studio lamps wherever I positioned it, even though my lamps are adjustable.  There simply wasn't enough space on the work table for me to use it, and no other appropriate surface to set it on.

This is the other end of the same room.  I was sitting in the office chair here when I took the first photo above.  Sometimes my computer sits on this table (also, you might be able to see my sewing machine just to the left of the lamp on the right, behind the chair back).  Often, though, like right at this minute, my computer is sitting on the big work table and I am sitting on my high drafting chair. My printer sits atop a plastic storage tub under the work table.  I have to bend down frequently to use it.  I'm just glad it's wireless.  When I watch DVDs or stream TV online, the computer sits atop two pillows on my lap, on the couch.  I keep the screen at eye level virtually all the time, to favor my neck.

Just to the right of the photo is a nearly-floor to ceiling window with grid shelving in front.  The shelving ends where the ironing board begins.

That's BeeGee there, looking out the window.

This is the hallway connecting my two rooms, from the north room with the big table into the south room, which serves as my main "living" area as well.

This is my smaller work table, which also has shelves built on top of it and storage underneath.  The black shirt on the far right is hanging on the back of my front door.

This is the same room, looking the other direction, away from the front door.  My kitchen.  My living room.  The refrigerator is to the right of the stove in this photo, and to the left of the work table in the photo above.
Another view of my living space.  Notice, if you will, that in all these images, there's no bedroom, no dining area, no regular dining-type chairs to sit in, and not even enough room for me to get down on the floor and really stretch out.  I eat most meals sitting Indian style on the couch with a tray on my knees.  

Also notice that just about every inch of space is being utilized.  I have things tucked in nooks and crannies that you likely didn't even notice...like my folding futon (housed during the day to the right of the drafting chair, between the work table and the shelving unit, in the first photo at the top of the post), or my foam mattress topper rolled up and stowed in a spot in this photo, between the round end table and the cart my microwave sits on.  Likewise the rest of my bedding is stashed in spots so it's out of the way during the day.  Every night I move the ottoman over toward the sink, lay out the futon and topper on the floor in front of the sofa, and make up the rest of my bed for the night.  And I put it all away every day or there's simply no space to do anything else. 

My couch is smaller than a normal couch.  Any other couch, including traditional style fold-out sleepers or those new, modern couch/bed things (the sleek but cold looking ones), would take up even more space in this room than my current couch does.  So that is not an option to my sleeping situation.  Actually, my futon is the most comfortable bed I've ever had, so even if I had a real bedroom, I'd likely just get a low frame to put the futon on.

This is looking back from the south room into the north.

So, this is Rose Cottage.  Tight as a drum.  You can see why I am constantly reorganizing supplies and getting rid of stuff -- I simply don't have room to spare.

When I first rented this space, it was as an art studio only.  I was staying with a friend at the time and had the rest of my household goods in storage.  When that living situation changed after 1-1/2 years, I basically had to move into my art studio because I couldn't afford a second rent.  I also couldn't afford to keep all that stuff in storage so I sold or gave away everything that wouldn't fit in Rose Cottage.  So this was a case of my art studio having to accommodate me living in it -- as opposed to my carving out space to make art in my already-established home.

I'm all for tiny-house living, but in order for me to live and work in the same space, then obviously I need a bigger place.  Unfortunately, that's simply an impossibility for me at the moment.  As it is, the rent I'm paying for Rose Cottage is more than half my monthly social security income (plus the rent has gone up 15 percent since I moved in in 2009 while social security has increased maybe 3 percent).  I rarely sell any art (or used books or CDs or art supplies) anymore, and when I do, it's not enough to make a significant difference to me financially.

Any other available living space in Fortuna would cost more than I am currently paying -- and believe me, I check all the time.  Plus, utilities are included in my rent...so even if I found another place, I'd have to fork out an additional $75 - $100 a month for utilities on top of higher rent.  The ideal situation for me would be a detached one-bedroom mother-in-law unit behind someone's home, where they were more interested in having a solid, mature, clean, quiet, long-term renter in the space than with getting market-rate rent.  Rents in California are out of sight, even in rural, largely low-income Humboldt County.  The rent I pay now for under 300 square feet of space is 500 percent higher than my mortgage payment was for a "2-bedroom and office" home in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s.

We do have low income housing in Humboldt County, of course.  I'm on the waiting list for a voucher, I'm like number 350 on the list.  There are a lot of low income families here and very few vouchers to go around.  Still, even if I was able to get a voucher, all the low income units in the county that take housing vouchers are in huge apartment complexes filled with noisy, ill-behaved kids and their clueless, often negligent parents, as well as a lot of druggie types.  I simply couldn't live in one of those places.

We do have a private senior-only complex in Fortuna, where residents pay only 30 percent of their monthly income.  You have to be at least 62, low income, and have a disability of some sort.  I meet all the qualifications.  I've been on the waiting list for two years.  I keep getting booted out of first place by the next person who comes along who also meets all the qualifications but is older and/or more disabled than I am.

So there you have it.  This is what's so in my little world.  I'm stuck, until I can get into Mountain View Village (the place I just mentioned), or that perfect mother-in-law unit magically appears.  I just have to make the best of it in Rose Cottage, and that's exactly what I've been doing.  Despite the space limitations which make it nearly impossible for me to implement any significant changes in my setup that might be more body-friendly, I'm happy being here.  It's really quiet, it's cozy, I have great neighbors, I have a fabulous view over the Eel River Valley only about 100 steps from my front door.  But I'm also not psychically ready to move yet, either.  I figure when the timing is right, the Universe's timing that is, then the appropriate next place to live will become available to me.  I'm doing and have done everything I can.  The situation is out of my hands at this point.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Four Up

Four of my fifteen stamphead, kids-book-page postcards.  I had a lot of fun with these.  The little jewel stickers are from the dollar store.

I'm reading my third Ruth Ozeki book this summer, All Over Creation.  I love that her books take on BIG issues (like genetically modified food) in novel form.

I read The Drowned Man, by David Whellams, recently, and liked it.  Good mystery.  I have his earlier Walking Into the Ocean in my queue at home.  The latter is the first in Whellams' Peter Cammon series.

I also just read my first Elizabeth George mystery, Careless in Red.  She wrote all the Inspector Lynley books, of which Careless is one of the most recent.  And I saw all the BBC Inspector Lynley TV series so I didn't feel the need to start at the beginning of the book series.  I like her writing a lot, although Careless had too many tangential, unnecessary characters, making the book longer than it needed to be.  Still, I'll read the next one.

A couple things are on my mind...but I think I'll save my philosophizing for next week.

Have a great weekend.  It's beautiful this morning in my neck o' the woods and the temps are supposed to be in the low- to mid-70s for the next week anyway.  I think summer has finally arrived on the North Coast.  xo

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Signs of Life

Evidence of studio activity...

What I'm working on at the moment is a series of postcards made from children's book pages, featuring stampheads.  Quite fun.

Although I always wind up doing more than I should at one time, meaning I end up pushing myself physically.  It's easy for me to get on a roll and not want to stop.  Yesterday saw me powering through a lot of pain in my back, neck and right hip...before I finally stopped myself, called the chiropractor and was able to get an adjustment later in the day.

My desire to make less art now is about taking care of my body -- I need to keep reminding myself of this, that it's not about being lazy.  The truth is that it hurts.  All the art I make has me looking down at a work table, and that's hell on my neck.  Or standing up at my tables, which is hard on my lower back and hips.  Even sitting and looking down is painful.

And so it goes.  Lots of good new ideas, but what actually gets done will happen in snippets of time between lots of resting.  Ahhh, aging...

Note to younger readers especially:  Establish healthy boundaries for your body, and apply them.  When younger, our bodies usually don't complain if we overwork ourselves.  Or if the body does ache, it's too easy to stop working for now and then go right back at it with renewed and increased vigor later on or the next day, often day after day.  Until one day, after years of overworking yourself and having no regard for what the future might hold, your body simply isn't able to stand any repetitive activity for more than a few minutes.  Ask me how I know...
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Scraping Bottom

Art Journal collage, August 2014
I'm down to the last couple of images of recent work to upload here.  That alone is reason to start making art again.  Remember when I posted here everyday or nearly?  I was way more productive.  Not that that matters, really.  It's just a fact.

I'm making my semi-monthly trek into Eureka today for food shopping and other errands.  I'm also having lunch with one artist friend and later, coffee with another.  Yesterday I went to the Humboldt County Fair with another friend, and we listened to yet another friend and her partner play Hawaiian music.  Good friends, good times.  I'll be ready for my solitude again tomorrow, I'm sure.

And I do plan to be creative again, beginning later this week.

Have a great week.  xoxo

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back To The Future

And now, back to our irregularly scheduled programming...

Here's my new coordinated set of Gelli printing plates ~~ 4x6, 5x7, 6x6, 3x6, and 4x12.  They're a set because they used to be one 12x14 inch plate.  I never did much with that huge printing plate anyway.  Gelli, as you may know, has recently started selling several small-sized plates that I definitely wasn't going to spend even more money on.  So...you do the math.  I think the likelihood of my using any or all of these smaller plates is far greater than my ever using the huge plate again.  (I still have my original 8x10 inch plate.)

Here's what I did:  I used an Omnigrip ruler (one of those used for making cuts on fabric for quilting), and a sharp craft knife.  The gelli stuff was especially hard to cut at the top and bottom ends of my incisions, and I'm afraid I didn't do as clean a job as I would have liked.  I figured that if I really use one of those small sizes a lot and the slightly uneven edge bothers me, then perhaps I'd buy one that size!  I've already had a couple comments asking to know what I did, so here it is.

I actually feel a few minor stirrings of inspiration to Gelli print again...but then, I feel that way about several things at the moment.  Meanwhile, it's a lot easier to just lie down and read a book.

I'll be taking a book making class in September from one of our local NorBAG members.  Looking forward to that.  I've also wanted to do some Jude Hill-inspired hand stitching for quite a while, so will likely enroll in one of her online classes before August is out (all her classes are on sale this month).

Have a great weekend.  xoxo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Long Story Short

A couple days into that writing project, and I began to get depressed...

Here's the deal:  Few of you know that I've already done that depth work on my past ~~ the introspective writing and Progoff Intensive Journaling (separate from all that other journaling I did), a few years in non-substance abuse 12-step programs, several bouts of therapy, and countless personal growth workshops.

I can't go back there again.  It's history.

Robin Williams' suicide has really gotten to me.  First off, I still can't quite believe it.  Here's this guy we all loved, and nobody really knew how much he was hurting inside.  The thing is, we've all been damaged in some way, everybody is suffering.  My early difficulties are no worse than anyone else's, and not nearly as bad as a lot of folks'.

I spent the better part of my adult life dealing with the hand I was dealt, and not dealing well at all in some respects.  But here I am, and I suspect I'm a better person now because of my past than I might have been if I'd had it easier from the get-go.

I will, though, give you a synopsis of my life in a nutshell ~~
  • My childhood and adolescence were difficult and painful.  My mother was insane.
  • I responded by trying to run away from the past, for nearly 20 years.  
  • Those years included two marriages and a third major relationship; physical moves from Santa Cruz to Maui to Boulder and back to Santa Cruz; numerous jobs with increasing levels of responsibility that I was always good at but which were never a good fit for me, alternating with times of creative enterprise in one form of another; other travels; and all that personal growth work mentioned above.
  • I made a lot of mistakes because I had had no guidance.  Those mistakes, though, were really nothing more than major errors of judgment.  I was never clinically depressed, I was never in trouble with the law, I didn't become an alcoholic or drug abuser, I hurt no one but, ultimately, myself.  I didn't know any better.
  • It took me a further 20 years or so to build a new life for myself.  I continued to do personal growth work during these years, made a few more physical moves,and had several more jobs of the same ilk while being as creative as I could be all at the same time.
  • I survived.  I lived to tell the story.  I'm better off now for all the shit and hard times I went through.

C'est la vie.

About four years ago, all the pieces of my life fell into place.  I'm settled, I'm happy, I don't work anymore, everything in my life is just the way I want it to be.  I love myself, I'm happy with who I've become ~~ which is really who I was to begin with ~~ and there's nothing else I need or want.

I'm still grateful, though, to those of you who suggested I write further about my life.  What you've really done is kicked me in the butt to let the past go and move on.  Many thanks.  xoxo